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Omnivore’s Delight 8: Astronauts of Antiquity

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India and B. Rhyan of Astronauts of Antiquity are kind of like Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan from When Harry Met Sally—emphasis on kind of. If Meg Ryan was a seductive lounge songstress and Billy Crystal a virtuosic guitarist, the analogy would be much more accurate. As the pillars of AoA, the pair initially crossed paths at an airport while India was Continue reading ‘Omnivore’s Delight 8: Astronauts of Antiquity’

BACKTRACKING FORWARD: DESERT ISLAND DISC

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The concept of a desert island disc is a bit far fetched. To begin, how the hell are you going to play an album if you are stranded on a desert island with no food, protection or life essentials, none the less electricity! I contemplated titling this post something similar to Rob’s “Top Five” lists from High Fidelity but that is another tricky endeavor. My tastes are always changing and the constant influx of new albums into my collection means old favorites continue to get bumped in favor of fresh slabs of wax. Simply put, it is impossible for me to create a condensed and small list of favorite albums. There are just too many. But for the sake of turning on readers to incredible masterpieces of music, I opted for desert island because if I were stranded with no help in sight, the raw power of Danser’s Inferno Creation One LP would keep me sane until help arrived.

Danser's Inferno LP

Danser's Inferno LP

The back of the album states “Composer-arranger John Danser had an idea: combine the wildness of a hard-rock rhythm section with the structured harmonies of a brass choir.” Danser, who is credited with composing and arranging all the musical material on the album along with playing the tenor sax, amplified clarinet and flute, certainly had a keen ear for varied musical styles and was working under the radar in the music scene of the 1960s while attending the Manhattan School of Music. His network of the top New York musicians must have been expansive for he recruited a total of nine proficient brass instrumentalists to play on the album, with four solely representing on the trumpet and flugelhorn.

One of the reasons that Creation One is such a powerful album is the straightforwardness of its complexity. With its stunning horn arrangements, talented cast of completely unknown musicians and the booming vocals of an unknown singer by the name of Randy Maddison, one can wrap their hands around the sound. There is no over the top production or indications of overdubbing and post production tomfoolery- Just a hot and tasty platter filled with influences of jazz, rock, funk, soul, latin and orchestral epics.

“Sunday Morning,” the album’s dynamic opener, is a superb debut for a disc that shows a highly skilled ensemble of musicians coexisting harmoniously. The vocals are in top form on the track, hitting notes from low whispers to emotional cries of exuberance. This formula is heard throughout the disc as the band also spreads their sound in rising crests of rhythm, interchanging effortlessly between quiet passages and hard driving grooves.

1975 Reissue of Creation One

1975 Reissue of Creation One

“Sombre Guitar” is the album’s most notable song in the wax community. Serious diggers who have unearthed this disc have catapulted this track into legendary status on compilations, mixes and live sets. Its latin-boogie flair makes for prime needle dropping during any funky set of music to get people down on the dance floor. “Inferno” is by far the most aptly named track on the disc for its backbone of congas and drums set a fierce tone as the horns flare up with intense peaks meant to scorch all who partake of the listening journey. The frenzied ticking of the organ and the guitar is finally heard in the foreground as the vocals bow out from this cut to allow for instrumental mayhem.

The momentum obtained on the A-Side is significant but the flip of this record further substantiates its desert island status. “Turning the Corner” is a flawless effort that runs the gamut from upbeat, poppier rock to straight up funk and soul grooves. The brass compositions are absolutely stellar and on par with some of the best heard in symphony halls around the world. The unique addition of these complex arrangements to rhythms rooted in rock and jazz is an incredible feat that only further showcases Danser’s talented ability. As for “Love, Rhythm of the World,” this is one of those songs that elicit goose bumps on my spine when Danser and his ensemble set the mood to allow the vocalist room to exhale an energetic and emotional repetition of the title on the track, tucked away at the end of the tune.

Creation One is a truly extraordinary album that can be listened to without interruption for each track offers incredible examples of talent at its finest. It’s an unprecedented record from the early 1970’s that has been raised to holy grail status in the digging world. A small, independent label repressed the album in 1975, only two years after its initial debut, but that is also hard to come by in today’s used vinyl market. I recently discovered that CDBaby.com has the entire album remastered and available for download and Amazon.com has a pre-order available for an Import release in November. It seems John Danser’s music is finally becoming accessible to the general public after decades of dormancy.

WFMU: The Biggest Record Show In The Country!

WFMU: The Biggest Record Show In The Country!

Looking to snag an original copy of this highly recommended LP? Well, the largest record show in the United States is coming to Manhattan TOMORROW! Come bump elbows and dig through crates with thousands upon thousands of record hungry customers being fed their fix of vinyl from hundreds of dealers. I’ve been hawking wax at the WFMU Record Fair for six years and counting and anticipate its yearly arrival more than my own birthday. Thinking of coming out to the event? Come by my booth and say hello. I am located directly next to the bar so you can grab a drink and maybe peruse my crates of hand selected, freshly picked platters of the finest nature. Looking for your own copy of Danser’s Inferno? I will never part with this sacred disc (remember, I need to keep it in case I get stranded on a desert island) but a little hustling, hunting and bargaining might get you an original copy from another dealer for under five hundred. Or just download the mp3s but promise you’ll buy a copy on vinyl if it gets a proper reissue.

Here is a link for all the information one needs about attending:
WFMU Record Fair 2009

Keep Digging For Holy Grails
-Gregorious-

P.S.- I paid fifty cents for my copy and it was the best two quarters I ever spent.

50 STATES IN 50 WEEKS…WEEK 18: LOUISIANA

Home of: Louis Armstrong, Jerry Lee Louis, Jelly Roll Morton, Wynton Marsalis, Britney Spears, Mute Math, Cowboy Mouth, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Master P, The Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Ellen DeGeneres,

Fun Facts: State flower; magnolia, state songs; “Give Me Louisiana” and “You Are My Sunshine,” state bird; eastern brown pelican

The Venues:

Three blocks from the Mississippi River in the French Quarter of New Orleans stands Preservation Hall. Originally built as a private residence in 175o, the Hall has served as a sanctuary for New Orleans Jazz since 1961. Jazz fans flock to Preservation Hall to hear both veteran New Orleans Jazz players and up-and-coming musicians.

The Howlin’ Wolf is more than just a club named after a famous bluesman. With locations in New Orleans and Mandeville, and past performances by Foo Fighters, Steve Winwood, Ozomatli, Arturo Sandoval, Harry Connick Jr., Allison Krauss and more, the venue also manages time for a non-profit division that has raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity as well as a management arm that represents the renowned Rebirth Brass Band.

Music fans from all over will be heading to City Park in New Orleans this Halloween weekend for the 11th annual Voodoo Experience music festival. Voodoo is known for its diverse lineup, combining the best of national and local artists of all genres and this year’s line up is no exception: KISS, Jane’s Addiction, Ween, Lenny Kravitz, The Flaming Lips and Brand New will be sharing the stage with Silversun Pickups, Beausoleil, Lil Brian & The Zydeco Travelers, Parliament, New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars and Quintron and Miss Pussycat. Oh and Eminem will be making his only 2009 live appearance at this year’s Voodoo Experience.

The Music:

TZPXQMAMSWBM-320x240Jealous Monk – New Orleans’ Jealous Monk combine old school hip hop with New Orleans funk. MCs Intelligence and Jermaine Quiz rhyme over a live band featuring Dirty Dozen Brass Band founding member Kirk Joseph on sousaphone and a revolving door of the area’s best musicians. They’ve even funked up hip hop’s signature turntables, adding wah-wahs, delays and distortions. Get a taste of New Orleans with “Black Magic” from their album Sun Up to Moon Down. Check out Sam C.’s Q&A with Jealous Monk’s Jermaine Quiz here.

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Julie Odell – In “Cast Us  Your Wishes” from her 2008 release I Put My Treasures In My Pocket, Julie Odell’s sweet voice floats effortlessly over her whimsical piano arrangements. It is nearly impossible to believe that this track, as well as the rest of the album, were recorded while Julie was still in high school. Julie’s new project Giant Cloud will be showcasing at New York City’s Union Hall as part of the Park The Van CMJ Showcase.

YQWYIVOTHQQZ-320x240Dirtfoot – Synthesis.net describes Shreveport’s Dirtfoot as a blend of Nick Cave, The Gourds, Old Crow Medicine Show and Mr. Bungle. The band calls their unique melange of musical styles “Gypsy Punk Country Grumble Boogie.” While all of their instruments are acoustic —guitar, banjo, upright bass, pots n’ pans, drums, bells, saxophone, xylophone and more—they have the energy level of the loudest plugged-in bands. “Footsteps” is full of complicated rhythms and unhinged, howl-at-the-moon vocals.

Check out these acts and other great Louisiana artists in the playlist below!

Who are your favorite OurStage Louisianans? Where do you like to see live music in Louisiana? Let us know in the comments!

BACKTRACKING FORWARD: WANTED ON WAX

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In my ideal world, everyone would have access to a vinyl press in their own backyard. Cutting discs would be as easy as ripping a CD. Until this happens, I will be digging each month in the OurStage archives to bestow three artists upon you whose music I would love to hear on vinyl.

SIX STRINGS AND A PIECE OF WOOD

Six Strings and a Piece of Wood

Six Strings and a Piece of Wood

It’s a pleasure to discover new music that does more than aurally satisfy. Listening to music that summons emotions, paints exquisite landscapes and speaks louder than words without uttering a single one is truly an uplifting experience. Radomir Vasiljevic and Goran Kulic, two accomplished musicians hailing from the former Yugoslavia who capture this essence under the moniker Six Strings and a Piece of Wood, compose truly captivating songs that are drawn from the deep recesses of creativity and inspiration. They piece together intricate compositions that revolve around the beauty of the guitar with the occasional addition of the accordion and violin.

“Chardaq,” with its soft, dreamy melody evokes a carefree feeling of walking on clouds as the world revolves below. Tracks like “Paralamera” and “Salsalata,” which stir up a more flamenco and salsa flair, showcase a stronger, danceable rhythm as one is whisked away to a sun drenched beach where music never ceases playing. These songs, along with the rest of the catalog, conjure such profound and distinct images in the listener’s mental cavities and represent creation of music that is meant to be experienced and not simply heard.

JUSTIN HELLMAN

Justin Hellman

Justin Hellman

Critics have long claimed that jazz is dead. Looking back, the genre has never really been able to return to the heights it achieved in the late 1950s and 1960s, although countless musicians have been flying under the radar for years since then recording brilliant, yet commercially overlooked, music. But when a cat like Justin Hellman starts plucking away at an upright bass while the cool and collected vibes of Eric Vogler compliment him on the guitar, the ensuing sound crushes criticism of jazz music’s supposed death. The quartet represented on his current recordings excel at layering their respective instruments in a flawless pattern, where neither outshines one another—yet they all showcase their talents effortlessly. Hellman stands out for commandeering his upright bass to create a deep, resonant sound while the nature of his tracks run a straightforward gamut of clean and crisp compositions that maintain a consistent groove. Although the recordings represented online are digital mp3s (an audiophile’s nightmare), they are extremely well produced and mastered, making the decision of pressing a 180 gram LP a natural step for Hellman.

Similar to the nature of jazz musicians from decades prior, Hellman plays with and performs in various ensembles. His current project featured here consists of a semi-rotating lineup of talented musicians who all add a unique perspective and skill set to the songs. Check out his other endeavors, Sugar Shack and Plum Crazy, on OurStage for Hellman’s explorations into more groove-oriented sounds.

DELTA HIGHWAY

Delta Highway

Delta Highway

Delta Highway embodies what I love about blues music so much. Having been a fan of the genre for many years, I crave the raw, gritty and traditional notes that gave birth to that sound. My upbringing on 1960s culture and music, on the other hand, made my ears keen to all the young musicians like Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield—who helped shape and recreate the genre by injecting it with a new life. Similar to the current state of jazz in today’s market, blues has waned in popularity, but Delta Highway and front man Brandon Santini’s expressive harmonica hooks prove that the amount of talent still brewing in this genre is quite strong. Every track represented on their OurStage profile shows this combo at their best, laying down hard rhythms that give a nod to the past and inject a burst of contemporary edge courtesy of an experienced troupe of musicians. “We Got a Thing Goin’ On” and “23 Hours,” being two stellar examples of the group’s musical prowess, truly show the group playing their hearts out.

Delta Highway’s music is meant to be heard live where one can ingest a heavy dose of raucous talent on stage. But for the songs that invoke the spirit of dirty and traditional blues progressions, like the soulful track “Feelin’ Bad,” put on some headphones, grab yourself a smoke and pour a drink as you turn up the stereo for an optimal listening session.

Keep Digging!

-Gregorious Winter-

MARKETPLACE NEWS: CLOSING SOON – THE JOHN LENNON SONGWRITING CONTEST AND NAMM PRESENT: PLAY THE 2010 NAMM SHOW

The OurStage Marketplace connects artists looking for gigs with venues looking for new talent. With amazing opportunities both around the USA and the world, the OurStage Marketplace is the place to be for up-and-coming artists!

Perform for industry professionals at Winter NAMM in Anaheim, CA!

Perform for industry professionals at Winter NAMM in Anaheim, CA!

This week, we are putting the spotlight on a great opportunity in the OurStage Marketplace that’s application deadline is fast approaching. The John Lennon Songwriting Contest and the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) are offering one lucky artist the chance to perform at the 2010 NAMM Show in sunny Anaheim, CA! The NAMM music show highlights the latest and greatest gear the music industry has to offer, from the most up-to-date recording software to hand crafted guitars. Not open to the public, NAMM is a hot spot for industry leaders and insiders. The winning artist will receive airfare from their home city to Anaheim, CA, hotel accommodations, admission to the 2010 Winter NAMM Show, a showcase performance during NAMM, recording session on the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus and more!

To be eligible to play Winter NAMM, you must be entered in Session II of the JLSC

To be eligible to play Winter NAMM, you must be entered in Session II of the JLSC

To be eligible for this great opportunity, artists must be entered in Session II of the 2009 John Lennon Songwriting Contest. The John Lennon Songwriting Contest is an international songwriting contest open to both amateur and professional songwriters in the genres of Rock, Country, Jazz, Pop, World, Rhythm & Blues, Hip Hop, Gospel/Inspirational, Latin, Electronic, Folk and Children’s music. Prizes include $20,000, $5,000 in new studio equipment, a week of performances on the 2010 Vans Warped Tour and a home page feature on Purevolume.com. Entries will be judged on originality, melody, composition and—when applicable—lyrics by a panel of industry tastemakers including Natasha Bedingfield, Bob Weir, The Black Eyed Peas and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees. You can enter the John Lennon Songwriting Contest Session II via the OurStage Marketplace, the John Lennon Songwriting Contest Web site or any of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest’s affiliates. The application deadline for the NAMM showcase opportunity is October 31st, 2009, so now is the time to enter the John Lennon Songwriting Contest.  Submit your EPK to the “John Lennon Songwriting Contest and NAMM Present: Play the 2010 NAMM Show” gig in the OurStage Marketplace!

For more info about the 2010 NAMM Show, click here.

For more info about the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, click here.

For more info about the OurStage Marketplace, check out the Marketplace FAQ section.

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PIANIST, VOCALIST, VIRTUOSO, TEENAGER: RICHARD SAUNDERS

“How do you react to those words… ‘And why aren’t you famous yet? You’ve had a few years to do it. Cause then I could say I knew you and you wouldn’t be so so so so boring… so boring.’”
~from the song “I Love You, Richard”

Richard Saunders writes songs, plays piano and sings with his band the too-cool-for-yous. He’s not boring at all. In fact, he’s a jazz vocal virtuoso.

Richard Saunders and the too-cool-for-yous

Richard Saunders and the too-cool-for-yous

One doesn’t need to check out his incredible array of awards to know it. Although, they are pretty hard to ignore. In 2008, Richard was the first-ever vocalist selected to sing with the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra and participated for the second time in the Gibson/Baldwin GRAMMY jazz choir. In the same year, he won silver in the jazz voice category at the NFAA youngARTS week. Not to mention Richard is one of only twenty high school (yes, HIGH SCHOOL) students that the US Department of Education has selected to be a Presidental Scholar in the Arts.

But forget the awards for a minute. Listen to Richard’s music and you’ll have a hard time  convincing yourself for a second that you aren’t in a well-known jazz club, from decades and decades ago, checking out one of the greats. His music is described as “soulfulicious.” We take that as a mix between “soulful” and “delicious.”  We bet you’ll agree after checking out the songs below.

BACKTRACKING FORWARD: 180 GRAMS OF JAZZ

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No additives, preservatives or fillers—just 100% vinyl; 180 grams of pure, unadulterated wax. Pressing audiophile records is the antithesis of going green since any recycled material in a platter can result in inferior sound quality and surface noise. Despite a trend of conservationism, the more vinyl used when making a disc results in a cleaner sounding album so when shopping for new records or considering pressing an album for a release, purity of the material and weight of the disc are two important factors to consider.

Jazz record collectors are some of the most notorious audiophiles in the world, falling slightly behind classical music aficionados. In the 1950’s and into the 1960’s, many jazz labels, most notably Blue Note Records, were pressing their albums on vinyl that weighed in the ballpark of 180-200 grams. Major labels were practicing this standard throughout the early to mid 1950’s when the commercially available LP was only a few years old. As time progressed and cost cutting methods were introduced, vinyl records dropped in weight to an industry standard of 130 grams. In the 1970’s, RCA created a new disc weighing in at a mere 90 grams—a short-lived mistake. Today’s standard is between 130 and 140 grams, but as consumer demand increases for these “audiophile” editions, it’s worthwhile to understand what 180 grams actually represents.

So what’s all the fuss? First and foremost, an album’s sound is directly influenced by how well it’s recorded and mastered as well as the quality of the stylus being used to play the record. The added weight and depth of the 180 gram pressing allows for deeper microgrooves to be set into the platter. When combining that with a smaller stylus on a cartridge, more detail is picked up and relayed to the amplifier. The average stylus on a turntable applies 50,000 pounds of force per square inch on the record so a smaller groove combined with a cheap generic needle produces a slightly inferior sound. Basically, the finer the stylus and the deeper the groove means less wear and tear on a disc—one of the reasons why analog is still heralded as the cleanest sound.

In today’s vinyl resurgence, bands have the option of pressing their record on varying degrees of vinyl weight according to their budget. While a well-mastered album will sound brilliant on 120 or 180 grams, bumping up to the audiophile weight will be noticed by customers buying your album. On average, the increase in vinyl mass when manufacturing only costs about one dollar extra per disc. And if you are a jazz musician, the upgrade in quality results in those quiet passages with crisp instrumentals and soft and sultry vocals to retain their brilliance even after years of a disc being played. Original Lexington Blue Note recordings from the mid 1950’s weigh in at over 200 grams, providing a sound superior to contemporary jazz albums being released. While not every musician has the help of legendary engineer Rudy Van Gelder at the controls, the attention to quality paid off for that label.

Listening to Antonio Farao’s exquisite instrumentals conjures up a prime example of an artist whose already superb jazz recordings would transfer beautifully over to the analog format. This talented pianist has collaborated with an amazing repertoire of legendary jazz musicians and built up a hefty discography. But, it’s Antonio’s prowess for striking a balance between jazz and electronica that makes him stand out. On the song “Quiet,” Antonio’s soft piano takes the foreground as smooth beats drop in throughout this relaxed number. He becomes a bit more daring and experimental on “Line,” where he layers the track with a driving drum and bass background peppered with a simple horn arrangement, offering a striking precedent of this musician’s ability to build epic instrumentals. In “Kenny’s Mood,” on the other hand, Antonio performs with a troupe of talented players as he crafts a chaotic, yet pleasing, composition on the keys without the aid of electronic supplements.

Here’s a playlist showcasing Antonio’s incredible talent:

HOT NEW JAZZ TALENT ON OURSTAGE

New York Saxophonist Sean Nowell (Photo:  Salvatore Corso)

New York Saxophonist Sean Nowell (Photo: Salvatore Corso)

Jazz is one of America’s most treasured musical exports. While its mainstream popularity has waned since the 60′s in favor of a more simplistic and aggressive genre of music, there was a period in history when jazz was hailed as the flagship music of American youth. From the days of flappers, to bebop and acid jazz, the genre has accumulated a rich and diverse history over the years. Even though Davis, Monk and Coltrane are long gone, finding great new jazz acts is merely a click away. Today’s playlist features a crop of fresh jazz artists on OurStage like Sean Nowell and GayeLynn McKinney who continue to put new twists on the classic American genre.  If you’re digging the tunes, check to see if any of the artists you like are playing nearby and support live jazz music!

BODEGA

bodega-11Listening to the confident sounds of Bodega, one would expect a band of  seasoned musicians and not a group barely in their early 20s. But, due to each member’s extensive musical training, this cool, calm and collected quintet—budding from the soulful streets of Philadelphia—is able to exude an audible swagger far beyond their years. Each song is versatile, traveling through an array of textures, rhythms and instrumentation.

Resisting the urge to strut becomes difficult when listening to the seamless interplay of saxophone and guitar in the elating riffs of “113,” and if the first three minutes don’t grasp your undivided attention, the following extended solo section displaying virtuosic improvisation at a heated tempo is sure to have you hooked. Despite its title, “Cancer and Urine” really is something sweet, lending a mix of crisp percussion and bass slapped so hard you’ll wonder if it was being punished. This convincing combination of addictive riffs and musical versatility has enabled Bodega to separate itself from the competition and perform with a very respectable bodega-2 roster of national touring acts, the likes of STS9 and Soulive.

With influences spanning from Stevie Wonder to Weather Report to Fela Kuti, these youngsters’ live performance guarantees funky beats and a blissful atmosphere. Check them out at the 5th annual Muddy River Jam Festival in Morrisville, PA, on August 1st!

 

JETBLUE & SUPERFLY USE OURSTAGE TO FIND TALENT TO PERFORM AT TERMINAL 5

Looking for the right gig to help your music career take off? JetBlue and Superfly Productions are searching for artists on OurStage to perform as part of their “Live From T5″ concert series at JetBlue’s new Terminal 5 at JFK. Artists from the Folk, Acoustic, and Singer Songwriter (male) or Singer Songwriter (female), channels are encouraged to submit their best original song in the “Live From T5″ channel through July 22nd.  Indie Rock, Jazz and R&B artists are encouraged to record demo quality, non-electric/drumless versions of a song in order to be eligible to compete.

Out of ten top ranking artists—chosen by the fans—five will be selected by JetBlue and Superfly to perform a thirty minute acoustic set in the state-of-the-art terminal on August 14, 21 and 28. Of the final five winners, one grand prize winner will be chosen to open for a headlining act at the Bowery Presents Terminal 5 located in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan, or another Bowery Presents show.

Don’t forget to vote! JetBlue is also looking to reward fans for voting in the “Live From T5” channel. By voting once you will be entered into a sweepstake drawing for a pair of round trip tickets to any JetBlue destination! The winners will be announced during the first week of August. For more information, including rules and restrictions, visit www.ourstage.com/go/jetblue.

Dan Dyer Performing in Terminal 5 (Photo: JetBlue)

Dan Dyer Performing in Terminal 5 (Photo: JetBlue)

 


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