René Marie Motma Music, RubyBird Studios – Brooklyn December 17, 2015, www.johnabbottphoto.com
My favorite artist of 2017 didn’t even release an album this year. René Marie first came to my attention in 2013 with the release of “I Wanna Be Evil,” a collection of songs originally recorded by Eartha Kitt. Later that year I saw here in Tree of Life, a production of the remarkable SPARC Live Art Series.
I was impressed, but it wasn’t until I picked up The Sound of Red, her most recent CD, released in May of 2016, that I really began to appreciate when a gigantic talent she is. Of course I digitized the CD and listened to it constantly on my iPhone, but if it had been back in the day and I owned the vinyl album, I would probably have worn out the grooves by the beginning of 2017! I was completely unaware of the other 9 albums she had released.
Then I stumbled on a YouTube video in which she performs the most poignant version of “Oh Shenandoah” I’ve ever heard. Continue reading →
Though I go to the theater often, I’ve not reviewed any theatrical productions on this site, but a couple weeks ago I saw the New Rep’s production of Man of La Mancha, and really want to laud the production here. Man of La Mancha was the first musical I remember seeing performed live. It was a production at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, VA. I don’t remember very much about that performance except that it was completely enthralling. The idealistic young man I was found himself identifying in with the madman trying to change the world. I was also enamored with the idea that a writer can be a force for good in the world, simply by inspiring others.
I’ve been obsessed with the musical ever since. I was so fascinated by the story that I read the original novel by Cervantes. But it’s really the musical I’m obsessed with. I’ve seen several productions, including the film adaptation, and I own the cast recordings of most productions that I haven’t seen. Each version has it’s merits, but the New Rep’s production is really something special. Everything about this production works, from the effective use of the performance space and the integration of the musicians into the ensemble, to the lighting and set design. Continue reading →
The Festy has been an annual thing in Nelson County, Virginia since Michael Allenby and The Infamous Stringdusters held their first event in 2009. I’ve not had the pleasure of going to the Virginia Festy, but last weekend The New England Festy brought a taste … Continue reading →
What Christopher Paul Stelling can do with a guitar, including playing it behind his head, qualifies him as a virtuoso. His lyrics are thought provoking and emotionally evocative. Jonah Tolchin, a pretty amazing guitar player in his own right, played … Continue reading →
I heard a story about Parker Millsap on NPR a month or two ago. It was a “Songs We Love” segment focusing on “Heaven Sent” in advance of the release of the new album on which it appears. The interview was … Continue reading →
It was my best friend from the neighborhood who first introduced me to Prince. Hanging out at his house one day, he played one of the earliest albums, either Controversy of the self-titled debut album. At that time, I was a good Catholic school boy trying to fit in, and Prince was kind of out there for me, with his erotic lyrics and a reputation for performing in underwear. I don’t remember my reaction as I listened to the songs with my friend, but my determination not to like this man’s music did not last long. Those songs stuck with me, echoing in my head.
Prince kept churning out great music, scoring bigger and bigger sales. Soon enough, even the suburban prep-school kids whose opinions I was too concerned about, were also listening. It would be hard Continue reading →
I was planning to attend a conference in Denver toward the end of October when I learned that Ryan Bingham would be playing the Ogden Theater on November 25. I quickly scooped up tickets. I also scooped up tickets for … Continue reading →
I don’t know of anyone who can rock and acoustic guitar as well as singer-songwriter Cory Branan, even all alone on stage! He was a powerhouse opening act for Chuck Ragan and the Camraderie. The gravely voice of this Punk-infused … Continue reading →
Mashrou’ Leila are a phenomenally talented band from Beirut that plays music that we’ll call Alternative Rock, for lack of a better term. The fact is that it defies easy characterization. The songs are in Arabic, and clearly influenced by … Continue reading →