Prince and the Soundtrack of My Life

Prince at Coachella.

Prince at Coachella.

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

Adam Ezra Group Release Better than Bootleg 2 at the Sinclair January 2

The Adam Ezra Group

The Adam Ezra Group

The Adam Ezra Group is celebrating the release of Volume 2 of the Better than Bootleg series with a show at The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA on January 2. Like its predecessor, Better than Bootleg, Vol 2 is a live recording, but while all the songs on Volume 1 came from one single performance, the recordings on this collection are taken from different shows. (Cl

In an interview conducted on December 13, Adam Ezra explained that it is not a live album” in the usual sense, documenting a single concert from beginning to end.  Rather the collection represents the band’s ongoing experiments at finding the best way to engineer recordings that “translate the energy from our live shows into a recording.”  I quite like the approach taken to this collection.  A live recording of a show on a single night is documentation of that specific night’s, but this approach feels more representative of the band’s live shows in general.  It mixes things up.  The tracks include performances of some of the bands best known songs such as “Burn Brightly” and “Steal Your Daughter,” one cover of James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James,” as well as some of the newest songs in the band’s repertoire. (Click here to jump to a video of “Hippy Girl,” another song from the album.)   Continue reading

Books, Beer, & Conversation with Jason Myles Goss

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This gallery contains 11 photos.

Plus a gallery from a great concert with unexpected audience participation! Narrative songwriting is a staple of American music, but it’s not easy to do well.  The charts are full of derivative, clichéd, sentimental songs that do sell well enough, … Continue reading

Parlor Sessions Profile: Dean Fields

FB_profiles_DeanTonight’s profile is the last in the Parlor Sessions profiles, which means that the tour starts in just a couple days.  If you’re in or near Charlotte, Atlanta, Richmond, Wilmington, Asbury Park  Middletown, Cambridge, Philadelphia, DC, and especially the tour’s first stop in New York City, you probably need to get your tickets soon! The tour starts June 5, makes a stop a night for 10 nights, and then is over!

Now that I’ve introduced Andy, Jason and Eliot, three fantastic artists whose music I, myself, have just discovered, I’ll come clean now and say that the order of these profiles wasn’t 100% random. Because I’d stated this series of posts with questions for Dean Fields about the tour itself, it felt like it would give the series a sense of symmetry if I also ended with his interview, so I made a decision to do so early on.

Plus there was the fact that I knew his music and how good it is already. I’d even interviewed him before for this site, and knew that savvy readers could find that. So I wanted to get the word out about the Eliot, Jason and Andy. Now, though, let me introduce you to Dean Fields, the only guy I know who turn stepping in dog crap into a love song, or make telling a woman she takes too long get ready seem, like a compliment.
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The Parlor Sessions Profile: Eliot Bronson

FB_profiles_Eliot-1Today we continue our series of profiles on the artists of the Parlor Sessions Tour with Eliot Bronson who was born in Baltimore where The Sun called him a “folk singing wunderkind.” The year after earning that praise he moved to Atlanta where he’s also earned similar praise from the press and built a sizable following.  He formed the duo The Brilliant Inventions which won a number of awards and built a sizable regional following until 2010 when his partner decided to pursue a career in photography.

For his part, Eliot continued his music career, releasing a solo album, Blackbirds in 2011, and an album called Milwaukee with his band the Yonder Orphans in 2012. He continues to receive accolades for his work, including first place in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest (http://www.merlefest.org), an award whose laureates include Gillian Welch, Johnny Williams, and Tift Merritt.
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The Parlor Sessions Profile: Jason Myles Goss

FB_profiles_JasonToday’s Parlor Sessions Profile is of Jason Myles Goss, a songwriter with uncanny ability to step outside of himself and write songs from another point of view that ring utterly true. He’s a storyteller whose songs can transport us into the boxing ring, to the boardwalk on Coney Island, to a fishing boat in Maine, to name a few places.

In describing the influences on his most recent album Radio Dial, his website states:

…in his latest collection of songs, Jason displays a broad range of influences, from the stark and eclipsing lyricism of Gillian Welch and A. A. Bondy, to the lush, melody-driven, pop/rock ambitions of Ryan Adams’ “Gold” and The Wallflowers’ “Bringing Down the Horse.”

I do hear that, but I’d add there is something Springsteenesque in his ability to evoke the working class so empathetically in his lyrics.

He’s now based in Brooklyn, but he grew up in Hopedale, MA, and in 2003 at the age of 21, when he was selected as a finalist in the first Newport Folk Festival Songwriters’ Contest, he was the youngest finalist by 10 years. It’s one of a number of awards and accolades he’s received.

Yesterday I posted the responses of Andy Zipf to a series of questions about the Parlor Sessions Tour. I asked Jason Myles Goss, another of your four musical “hosts” in the Parlor the same questions. His answers make me think maybe he’ll be the comic relief in the minivan.  They’re followed by a video of “Black Lights,” one of those evocative narratives songs I mentioned in the beginning of this piece, from his most recent album Radio Dial. Continue reading

The Parlor Sessions Profile: Andy Zipf

6ffb9660a4c311e3b886125b351fb865_8The Parlor Sessions Tour, set to begin in 5 days at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC, sounds like it’ll be my favorite kind of show.  It’s 4 singer-songwriters playing together in small venues and interacting with one another.  In addition, as Andy Zipf puts it, “We really want to bring the audience into the experience.”  Yesterday I posted a short interview with Dean Fields explaining a little about about the tour.  Today I’m posting the first profile of the 4 artists who’ll be traveling in the Parlor Sessions minivan, starting with Andy Zipf, not because I’m going in reverse alphabetical order, but simply because his responses were the first I found when pulling the four responses up on my computer.

It seemed an appropriately random way to choose which to write first for a tour that doesn’t have a clear hierarchy of acts.  This will not be 4 acts playing in order of ascending importance, building to the headliner, but rather a “mutual admiration society” as Dean Fields called it. Watching artists interact is always interesting, and it’s another reason to come see this show.

So who is this guy with a name so full of consonants?  He’s definitely someone who believes music can have a lot of power. Continue reading

Season Ammons is Living Her Dream

Season Ammons, Courtesy of the artist

Season Ammons, Courtesy of the artist

Texas-born, Florida-based, singer-songwriter Season Ammons has been making music in front of an audience since the once shy child found found her voice in a middle school choir.   When she was just 17 she moved to Nashville to pursue her dreams.  She had some brushes with quick success, such as being advanced as a finalist for the USA Network show Nashville Star in 2004.  Ultimately she wasn’t chosen, yet she refused to give up doing what she loves and kept building a following.

In a phone interview she told me that when she finally released her first studio recorded CD, tellingly titled “I’m Alive,” she intended to make a statement.  The self-produced disc what her way of asserting that she was in the music business to stay.  I wanted to announce that I’m here, I’m doing this full time, and I wanted to show people what I could do.” As an independent artist responsible for every aspect of the project from the songs and sound to the packaging and marketing, there was a lot to do and a lot on the line, and she had to learn fast.   Continue reading

Help St. Paul de Vence Make a New Album

kick StPaul

St.Paul de Vence were looking for fan support to make a new album, I was on board, right away. Getting involved in crowdsourcing projects makes me feel like a bit of a producer, and I like the feeling of making music happen. Backers often get the music before anyone else, but if that’s not enough, you can get additional perks. In the case of St. Paul de Vence, I also just really want them to make an album as soon as possible. I wrote of my appreciation for their self-title debut in a previous post. It was an interesting, unique project with a distinctive sound.

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The campaign ends Sunday Dec 22, 9:00pm EST, so act now!

The St. Paul de Vence Kickstarter Campaign is about to enter it’s last week, so if you want to get in on it, you need to do it soon. Earlier this week I interviewed band leader Benjamin Doerr about the plans for the new album. Find out what he had to say and watch a St. Paul de Vence performance below.
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Interview with Declan Bennet, the Singer/Songwriter Starring in the West End Production of Once

Declan Bennett accompanied by Alon Bisk

Declan Bennett accompanied by Alon Bisk

This past Friday I caught a show on Rockwood Music Hall’s Stage 3 that was a revelation. Declan Bennet, currently starring in the West End production of Once, is on a brief break, during which he played a show in New York. It was brilliant! It’s been a while since I left a concert this excited about the artist, but this guy is the real deal!

I’d only discovered his music a few weeks ago, when I read a short blurb about the live and unplugged remake of his 2011 album Record: Breakup. I didn’t know who he was, so I certainly wasn’t aware of the original, electric, studio version of Record:Breakup, but something about the blurb intrigued me. I remember jotting down the link on my phone, and finding it later that night, I was blown away.  Continue reading