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

From the Bayou to the Red Sands: Pine Leaf Boys and Hassan Hakmoun at the Lowell Folk Festival


This gallery contains 25 photos.

Summer in Massachusetts has been mild this year, too mild for my tastes!  But on one Friday evening a few weeks ago, the Pine Leaf Boys hailing from Lafayette, Louisiana and Hassan Hakmoun, originally from Marrakech, heated up the night … 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

Leon Russell and Eric Himan on Tour


This gallery contains 9 photos.

Hey all you Southerners, specifically those in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas, if you’re anywhere near the venues on the list below, get yourself to this show and see Leon Russell with Eric Himan opening. I saw … Continue reading

Concert Gallery: Bettye LaVette and Jesse Dee at Johnny D’s; February 4, 2014


This gallery contains 27 photos.

I’d been wanting to see Bettye LaVette in concert ever since I happened to catch the broadcast of her concert on Austin City Limits back in 2008. She blew me away, especially the performances of the song “Choices‘” by Billy … Continue reading

Offbeat Holiday Music

a1023094489_2On Friday at Rockwood Music Hall Delcan Bennet played a new single, “Father Christmas Knows,” that comes from the perspective of the black sheep of the family, the one too often left out of the celebrations. The song has bells and is dark, but optimistic at the same time.

Now I have to admit, I have warm and fuzzy feelings toward Christmas, and I like Christmas music, especially the traditional stuff. Continue reading

Music is Everywhere in New Orleans


This gallery contains 49 photos.

I’ve never been to any other place where music is as omnipresent as it is in New Orleans. Of course there are more important centers of the music industry, producing much more of the stuff the world listens to and … Continue reading

Concert Scrapbook: Paul Weller with Matthew Ryan Opening


This gallery contains 14 photos.

I’ve been a fan of Paul Weller since a friend introduced me to The Jam back in high school. His musical styles have evolved and changed with the times, but the fundamentals have remained. Clever, socially aware lyrics set to … Continue reading

Concert Scrapbook: July 27, 28 at the Newport Folk Festival


This gallery contains 68 photos.

This is just a collection of randomly selected and arranged photos from Saturday and Sunday, July 27 and J8 at the Newport Folk Festival at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, RI.  The Newport Jazz Festival was this weekend.  I … Continue reading

Getting Gracefully from Formal: Eric Himan Tells the Story of his New Album

Eric Himan

Eric Himan

In 2012 Eric Himan decided he wanted to record an album with a different sound than anything he’d done before. Though the 34-year-old, Tulsa-based, singer-songwriter had already released 10 albums on his own label, he knew that this project would cost a lot of money, so he took to Pledgemusic to raise money for an album to be called Formal. T-shirts were printed with bow ties on them and everything. He recorded six songs,

but wasn’t happy with the results. So what did this guy who’s previously only been accountable to himself on his own label do? He pulled back, retrenched, and started over. The result was no longer called Formal, but Gracefully, named in honor of his grandmother who had raised him, and had died while he was working on the project.

Gracefully is a 12-track collection of original songs, the 8th such album he’s released since his self-titled debut in 2000, and it is different, both sonically and in the way it came into existence, but Eric doesn’t see it as radically so. He rightfully points out that there’s a natural progression between it and the albums leading up to it. He’s been increasingly experimenting with the styles of music on this album, as well as playing with other musicians and, of course, with the piano. On July 7 I had the chance to talk with him in some detail about the album, the frustrations and joys of making it, and the people he worked with. Along the way we also talked about the challenges of supporting oneself as a musician in the industry today, songwriting, and a few other topics.

Continue reading