New Favorite Song

My brother turned me onto this record.  80s/90s R&B cat reinvents himself as a Motown-inspired hybrid of Smokey Robinson & Stevie Wonder with a dash of Sam Cooke, a foot in the present and an ear to the future.

Buy this thing and let yourself go.  You’ll dance, you’ll sing, you’ll smile.  You might even choke up a little like me.

I keep playing this cut, “Sometimes”, over and over and over and over lately.

I think about this coming Tuesday and I pause …

I’m excited yet guarded.  I’ve got a feeling of cautious relief.  There’s embers of hope but still ..

such a long .. long .. long way to go.

Get Ready

Peace,

Mark

Raphael Saadiq

On Thursdays we take a break from gerunds

and announce that we’ll be posting new material will arrive soon.

A brand new song will be uploaded in a matter of days (there’s a sly out) here and to iTunes, a batch of videos will arrive, and we’ll be tweaking the layout here to focus more on the stacks of wax, relocating the blog portion to the periodicals section.

But let’s spin this one to let the day begin:

“Let The Day Begin”

The Call

Let The Day Begin

Axe and you shall receive

I grew up worshiping a whole range of guitar heroes. But I was too lazy to be the kid locked in his bedroom for 10 hours a day, skipping school, running scales and practicing practicing practicing. And I liked just strumming chords and playing songs as much or more than playing lookatmelookatmelookatme triplets.

Ever since he joined Robbie Fulks’ band almost a decade ago, I’ve been telling anyone who’d listen that Grant Tye is hands down the best, most versatile, rock/pop/country/younameit guitar player around. Wicked technique, fat, full tones to fit any situation and an uncanny ability to not overplay (though he can slice your head off if he’s feelin’ ornery) but rather stick to sweet phrasing and playing for each and every song.

Did I mention if you close your eyes you’ll swear he’s suddenly playing pedal steel and slide guitar with just a Strat and a whammy bar? Don’t believe me?

And if that’s not enough to turn all us wannabes green with envy he’s just a sweet guy to be around and comedian-level funny. Oh yeah .. he can sing his ass off too with a soulful growl.

When I was a kid, I doubled over with laughter watching Derek St. Hubbins lament about He Who Unleashes The Fury ..

I suspect Derek would say the same thing about Grant.

I watch Grant every time with my jaw half-open knowing full-well what he’s doing yet realizing what looks so effortless demands heroic talent and work behind it.

After years and years of making countless artists and bands sound great, he’s got some of his own terrific songs on his MySpace page. Check it out, drop him a line and send him some coin for all of his efforts.

Now excuse me while I set my bourbon down on my Fender coffee table, click replay above and enjoy.

Cheers,

Mark

To the party

I usually arrive on time. Often slightly early, un-fashionably so. I’m a dork that way.

To the music, I don’t mind being a bit late to the game. I gave up trying to be ahead of the curve when I was eleven – all it got me and my Almost Famous-y subscription to Rolling Stone was playground teasing and the moniker of ‘Professor Punk’. Admittedly, The Clash was as punk as it got back then for me and they and the rest now sit comfortably on Retro 80s playlists.

Sure, I looked up from whatever else I was doing during iPod commercials last year and was tickled by Feist’s “1234″. I just never got off the couch to investigate further.

Caught a rerun of Feist on SNL last night and she and the band were just tremendous.

Watched her perform and there it is in full view. Terrific pop songs, great singing, catchy melodies, inventive arrangements, great band. Every unique voice quiver and quaver right on the mark. Leaning into the performance. Made me shout. Made me happy.

Let’s

to the party.

The Little Huddle

There was no cable television in my Chicago neighborhood when MTV debuted in 1981. My brothers and I subsisted on the smattering of music videos from programs like SCTV or The Kenny Everett Video Show.

But my mom was so cool she would give blank VHS tapes to a co-worker living in the nearby suburbs who would drop the tape in overnight and give us back 6 hours of eye ear candy.

The great mix they played the first few years included lots of single cuts pulled from long-form concerts.

Fleetwood Mac’s performance of “Sara” was a big favorite of mine. It’s much better than the version on the 1980 live album.

Lots of great little moments in four groovy minutes. Mick looking like a mad Muppet, but rolling in with a simple, understated intro. Stevie with her knowing glances, scatting off-mic. John McVie sliding down to grab a meaty low Alembic F. Lindsey sidling up to Christine for a brief moment. Hell, just the guy screaming “YEAH!” at the beginning in high jubilant recognition.

But it’s The Little Huddle at 3:28 that just killed me. Dancing a little jig .. moving in tight to lock in with the drummer .. Lindsey proceeds to unleash the simplest little chord suspension lick with a clean-dirty guitar tone that’s just sublime. Leaning into it, feeling it, milking it. Mick grinning like a madman, lending an ear, playing that groovy brush shuffle like their lives depended on it. I could absolutely feel what they were feeling, rewinding that part over and over.

Stevie sends it off into the sunset with some resonant reverb on Lindsey’s mic and it’s over.

Pop perfection.

I’ve long suspected many guitar players are frustrated drummers. I certainly fit the bill. Many of my favorite moments performing live are these little huddles with the drummer .. just reveling in the now, the moment, and swinging with the music that we’re creating.

And I’ve learned over many years that a guitar player ain’t worth nothin’ without an amazing rhythm section. You can’t get to where you’re going if they don’t clear the brush away and light the path. When the pocket is so deep you’re free to just close your eyes and go off into la la land and float up high .. knowing they’re simultaneously keeping you aloft and also playing that little game of hopscotch with you among the clouds .. yeah, I’m mixin’ some metaphors but when your bandmates create a situation where time stands still and you can actually think a few steps ahead of yourself ..

Woah ..

With A Little Luck

If my memory serves, the second piece of vinyl I ever bought was a 45 of “With a Little Luck” by Wings. Not Paul McCartney. Wings.

It was on a very important feeling shopping trip to the Goldblatt’s store in the Scottsdale Shopping Center at 79th & Cicero. It followed sometime shortly after the first purchase, “Night Fever” from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Disco Stu, that was me.

It was important feeling because my two older brothers and me were using some allowance money our folks gave us and Dad drove the three of us to the store with the express purpose of doing so.  A musical subsidy.  Ya kinda knew what ya wanted ahead of time from the WLS-AM Top 40 Countdown and what you’d already researched while thumbing through the records on previous trips with mom.

It was important feeling because it was me and my brothers. Sharing this music passion at a really early age. And our dad, music lover that he was, leading the way.  Driving us on.

I can’t remember what my brothers picked up. Glenn might have had enough money to get an LP. Scott probably hid his dough and bought some firecrackers the next day.

I’ve been having a pretty shitty few days of trying to keep my spirits up but that trip with my dad and brothers just popped in my head and thinking about it put a smile on my face.

And for all the McCartney critics who would go on about how lightweight and sugary this stuff was .. here’s what I have to say to those folks ..

Ahh .. fuck it .. it’s not even worth it ..