From sweet and smooth classics, to new names, to old names with new music...the focus here, is to shine a little light on some damn fine music.

I'll find it. You can listen, review, or tell me I wouldn't know good music if it kicked me in the ass. I personally don't give a shit.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Stevie Ray on a Friday...Hell Yeah

Well the day is starting off with great promise.

First of all, it's Friday. Second, I got a nice nod from some friends in high places...or maybe low places...whatever. It's put me in a good mood. And we all know, while the attitude doesn't change much, the world is a much calmer place when Kat is in a good mood.

Feeling the need for some blues AND some rock.  One choice for that...Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Stevie Ray is perhaps the one artist whose passing I lament the most. After giving up the demons, his work was better than ever. Before getting sober, there were times when he was too drunk to sing, so he would sit down at the edge of the stage and...just play. And no one complained. The man was phenomenal. It hurts the heart to think of what might have been.

Texas born and bred, I'm not giving you the details of his life. It's all there, look it up. I just want to pick out some music.

For a fine Friday...or any other day/night/afternoon, I give you Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Start with some blues...

"Texas Flood" 
"The Sky is Crying"
"Sweet Home Chicago"..with a few friends: Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughn and Robert Cray

Kicking it up a bit...

"Love Struck Baby"
"Couldn't Stand the Weather"
"If the House is a Rockin'" ...this one's for Jim ..nice nod today for you too.

and will she include "Little Wing"  yet AGAIN?  Indeed I will.

Rock it...


Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Little Zydeco If You Please

Getting close to the weekend, but not close enough. Feeling a little antsy today and just need to move my feet a little lot.

Tasty licks today...go on say they're not. Today we are going back down to Cajun Country for a little Zydeco. Not focusing on one artist in particular, just a few delicious morsels.

Lost Bayou Ramblers "Blue Moon Special"
The Magnolia Sisters "Mag Hop"
Beausoleil "Blues A Bebe"

and because why the hell not...
Sesame Street Muppets do "It's Zydeco"

Just some fun tastes today.

"if your feet ain't tappin', baby you're dead."


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Always With A Little Help From His Friends: Joe Cocker

Today we are going to sample a few tasty treats from one of the greatest vocal interpreters of our time.

When he first burst upon the scene in the 60's, no one who saw him sing would have ever thought he would still be alive today. In my mind it was going to be a race between him and Keith Richards, to see who would kick the bucket first. Amazingly and luckily for us...they are both still here.

His facial expressions and wild arm gyrations just made you think, this guy is just gonna OD on stage. And yes, there were many demons. But somehow over the years, he always managed to pull it together and record another great cover song where he would sing his ass off.

John Robert Cocker or as we know him...Joe.

Starting out with covering "With A Little Help From My Friends," the list of songs he has given a new life to, is both extensive and impressive. And yeah, he won a Grammy and an Oscar for "Up Where We Belong," a ballad duet with Jennifer Warnes from the "Officer and a Gentleman" soundtrack, but that wasn't nearly gritty enough for me.

So today, let's taste a few real nice rockers and a ballad or two (can you just imagine at how many weddings "You Are So Beautiful" has been played?), cause the man can sing both. He can make you rock and he can make you weep. There are singers with vocal ranges where you listen and marvel at the talent that god has given them. Then there are singers who take what they have and prove that god has given them a soul.

Joe Cocker sings from his soul.

Listen Up...

"Feelin' Alright" ...the great song by Traffic, live from the Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour
"Cry Me A River" ...same tour with Leon Russell, Chris Stainton, Rita Coolidge, etc.
"The Letter" ...first a pop hit for The Box Tops, Joe gave it some blues and some balls.
"When the Night Comes" ...great song from Bryan Adams, Diane Warren and Jim Vallance. This is how you cover a song.
"Unchain My Heart" ...a pure and crisp vocal...very satisfying indeed
"You Are So Beautiful" ...a simple song, a simply powerful vocal

And my favorite Joe Cocker tune...
"Hitchcock Railway"  ... if your feet ain't tappin' with this song, baby...well you know. I'm ready for the day.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Songs for a Sunday Morning

"It's a beautiful morning, 
think I'll go outside for awhile and just smile"
Yes, it is...and I have.

An early morning walk with the dog where it seemed she and I were the only ones awake. I love the peace of the time just after sunrise, where the lake is just beginning to come into focus. This walk gave me my first sighting of the next generation of the local deer herd. Mom and her twins, spotted and beautiful, so on guard. It seems Mom is teaching them well.

Thought this morning we'd do start off this Sunday morning with some songs which offer the promise of one hell of a great day.  Nothing fancy today, just some good music.

 "Blue Sky" ...Allman Brothers. If this doesn't put you in a good mood, go back to bed.
"Old '55" ...The Eagles. Even today, I still get the same feeling I did when I first heard A great Tom Waits cover.
"I Don't Know You" ...New Riders of the Purple Sage. So sweet, so melodic...nothing better on a Sunday.
"Summer Breeze" ...Originally by Seals & Crofts, let's enjoy a cover by Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades

Taste them all, then go out and make this day epic.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Another One Hit Wonder: Something About a Bridge and Billie Joe

In 1967 when today's one-hit wonder came out I was...well, alive. It was the time of some really great music and some not so great. When this song came out, I absolutely hated it.  But it was everywhere, just like a Katy Perry song today. There was no escape.

Over the years, my hatred lessened to the point where I can appreciate the songwriting and the story. In fact, the song is extremely well crafted... and it has a hook for the ages. I'll get to that later.

Now in the 60's there were several musical hits which dealt with teenagers dying too young. Mostly they involved car wrecks and train wrecks. But there was one which was written about a suicide.

"It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty delta day"

...and so begins the ""Ode to Billy Joe"

The song written and performed by Mississippi native Bobbie Gentry was released in July 1967, hit #1 on Billboard's Hot 100, won a total of four Grammy's, was listed as one of the top 500 songs of all time by Rolling Stone and was turned into a movie. A simple arrangement of her guitar with some strings in the background, her voice and...the story.

The story of the song centers on one Billy Joe McAllister and his death when he "jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge." It is told in first-person narrative, with the storyteller revealing details about his death, as the monotony of everyday life plays out.

"  It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty delta day
I was out choppin' cotton and my brother was balin' hay
And at dinner time we stopped and walked back to the house to eat
And Mama hollered out the back door "y'all remember to wipe your feet"
And then she said "I got some news this mornin' from Choctaw Ridge"
"Today Billy Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge"  "

At this point we have no idea who Billy Joe is or his relation to this family.
As the family sits around the dinner table the conversation about Billy Joe is sandwiched in between mundane talk about dinner and chores. And we still do not know his relationship to this family.

" 'n' Brother said he recollected when he and Tom and Billie Joe
Put a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture show
And wasn't I talkin' to him after church last Sunday night?
"I'll have another piece-a apple pie, you know it don't seem right"
"I saw him at the sawmill yesterday on Choctaw Ridge"
"And now ya tell me Billie Joe's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge" 

Now we've learned there is a family connection.

" 'n' Mama said to me "Child, what's happened to your appetite?"
"I've been cookin' all morning and you haven't touched a single bite"
"That nice young preacher, Brother Taylor, dropped by today"
"Said he'd be pleased to have dinner on Sunday, oh, by the way"
"He said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge"
"And she and Billy Joe was throwing somethin' off the Tallahatchie Bridge" "

Now there's the hook. It seems the narrator is the one with the relationship with Billy Joe, clandestine at that. And what were they throwing "off the Tallahatchie Bridge" ?  Now, when this song came out, that was the question. While not quite as big a mystery as who Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" is written about, the music world was wild with speculation. Love letters, a ring, flowers...but the question was never definitively answered.

" A year has come 'n' gone since we heard the news 'bout Billy Joe
'n' Brother married Becky Thompson, they bought a store in Tupelo
There was a virus going 'round, Papa caught it and he died last Spring
And now Mama doesn't seem to wanna do much of anything
And me, I spend a lot of time pickin' flowers up on Choctaw Ridge
And drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge "

As the story ends, we see that life goes on, not always happily...even for the bridge. It collapsed in 1972.

Take a listen and read the story...

"Ode to Billie Joe"  Bobbie Gentry


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Lion, The Beast, The Beat: The Nocturnals Come Back With A Roar

Time to taste some new sounds.

In a previous blog titled "Stop the Bus, A Taste of Grace," we've had just a sample of today's featured artist. Their new CD has just been released, so why not have a lick or two.  The band is Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and the CD is The Lion, The Beast, The Beat.

Grace Potter rocks. Just watch a few videos and you can see why the fan base around the Nocturnals grows every day. Grace has a strong voice, is very respectable with the guitar and keys... and let's just say she has great stage presence.

The new CD is available for a listen on Spotify, and at first listen a few tracks jump out. The title song sets the tone. Not a band to play it safe, with "The Lion..." the Nocs have created more of an anthem. It lives up to the name, it has the pride of a lion, the strength of a beast and...a great beat.

The first song released "Never Go Back" is smokey and sultry.

Taste a few more.

"Timekeeper" ...distinctive vocal by Grace, strong support by the Nocs
"The Divide"

Fifteen tracks...lots of fun. And definitely worth a look-see.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Night with Ringo and Friends

Up in the Catskill Mountains, very close to the footprint of where Woodstock was held in 1969, there now is one spectacular venue to see a show. Winding paths lead to various concession stands, eating areas, and other fun things. The architecture blends perfectly with the countryside. The pavillion where the stage is set, sits halfway down the hill with seating rising up around it. The view is so serene, it's not hard to understand how half a million people peacefully cohabited here for three days in less than ideal conditions.

The event for the night was Ringo Starr's All Starr Band. Fun.

The All Starr Band this year consists of Steve Lukather (lead guitarist,vocals Toto), Richard Page (bass,vocals Mr. Mister), Todd Rundgren (a little bit of everything), Greg Rolie (keys,Santana/Journey), Mark Rivera (keys,sax), and Greg Bissonette (drums).

Starting the show was Ringo singing "Matchbox" and next going into "It Don't Come Easy." As this was my first time seeing Ringo, I was happily surprised how well he commands the stage. Light on his feet, he uses the whole stage and enjoys a really nice rapport with the crowd. Throughout the set, he would bounce between center stage and behind the drums.

Originally I had thought the All-Starrs would each do a few songs, but instead they each did one of their own songs, then handed it over to the next. First up was Todd Rundgren who asked "Have the drugs kicked in yet?" Assuming the old vibe from the Woodstock days might still be wasn't far from the truth. Although this time, I think the drug of choice might have been Prozac. This crowd was just a little too mellow for this rockers' liking...people, you're at a rock's time to boogie. Rundgren began his night with "Hello, It's Me," ...nice.

Greg Rolie took over next with "Evil  Ways" and mentioned it was 43 years ago, in that summer of '69, that they first played it at this site. Steve Lukather, one guy who really seems to love his job, said this was "the best summer vacation of my life." He then launched into "Rosanna," helped out by Mark Rivera on the upper range of the song. Richard Page did a fine job on "Kyrie" then bringing the circle back to Ringo.

It was a good mix. How can it not be enjoyable when you are going to hear the hits from each member of the band.  From the fun songs like "Yellow Submarine" and "I Don't Want To Work" to the memorable hits "Africa" and "Broken Wing" to the 'just don't stop' songs like "Everybody's Everything" and "Hold the Line.", the music just got better.  

There were not a lot of surprises at this show. Except for the songs Ringo decided to highlight off his new CD, every other song was pretty much expected. And that was a good thing. All hits, all the time....what's the problem there?  Was it one of the best shows I've ever seen...not at all.. But I never expected it to be.  It was a lot of fun for me and I think for the band. If you like at least two members of the All Starr'll have a enjoyable evening.

Because after all...we'll get by with a little help from our friends.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Road Trip Destination: An All-Starr Night

Another Saturday, another night of live music, another road trip..albeit a short one.

Tonight we take a drive from the weekend house in eastern PA and cross the Delaware into New York. Upstate NY that is. Seeing a show at a venue we haven't been to before...Bethel Woods. Home of Woodstock...the real one in 1969.  The show: Ringo Starr's All Starr Band.

Now as much as The Beatles were my first musical influence, I have never seen a Beatle live. Who would have thought that Ringo would be my first. Over the years, I have heard how every incarnation of his All-Starr  Band is so much fun. Tonight I find out for myself...looking forward to it.

This show was a last minute decision, fueled a lot by the tweets of one of the All-Starr Band...Steve Lukather.  Steve is a great guitarist, known primarily as the lead guitarist of Toto.  Steve is also a great tweeter, very personable...very human. His tweets over the past two weeks have covered his anticipation of playing with the rest of the band, and as the days progressed, his excitement in the progress of rehearsal.

Since it doesn't take much to get me pumped to hear new music, those tweets were enough for me. Also the prices at this venue were so much more reasonable than in the NY metro area. So, in a few hours a party of three will jump in the Sabaru for about an hour's drive.

Time for a little traveling music.

Little Feat "Let it Roll" of the best travelin' tunes
War "Low Rider" ....add a little funk to the trip
Stevie Wonder "You Haven't Done Nothing" ...keep it going
ZZ Top "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide" ...well, just because.

Won't be long before we hit the road...the review of the show tomorrow on the music blog.

Windows down, volume up...and drive.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

One Hit Wonder Time: Quarterflash

A video opens with a hot girl playing the sax, she lowers the sax to start singing...all pouty mouth and breathless vocal.

This is the start of the video for the taste of the day. The woman is Rindy Ross, the band is Quarterflash and the song is "Harden My Heart."

Quarterflash centered around a husband and wife from Portland Oregon. The song was first recorded with their previous band Seafood Mama. The re-recorded version would become their highest charting single...peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

While they would have another single "Find Another Fool" reach the Top 20, "Harden My Heart" remains to this day, a mainstay of 80's music stations.

It has everything a hit song should have. A punchy melody, good vocal, and great's the kind of song you will still listen to...even now.

"Harden My Heart"

Still have a soft spot for it.


Monday, June 11, 2012

An Evening with Jonny Lang and Buddy Guy

The lights went down right on time.

First up Jonny Lang.

Starting strong with a little blues number called "Don't Stop (For Anything)" Jonny Lang literally pulled every note kicking and screaming from his guitar. The sound was crisp, the pickin' fast and furious.

While the more blues oriented portion of his set was really strong, I felt some of his more rock edged songs lacked the same depth. At one point his singing mimics each note as he plays, a lot of effort for not a big reward. Vocally, at times it seems he tries a little too hard. He does have a decent range, though not sure he uses it to his advantage. Simple rule...don't overthink the performance, let the guitar playing speak for itself.

"Redlight" was one of the high points of his set, as was a great cover of Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City."  Backup singer, I believe her name was Missy Hale, did one hell of a job trading off lead vocals with Jonny on that tune.

The moment of the night however was the last song, no surprise that it would be "Lie to Me." . What was a surprise was how it began. The band left the stage and Jonny stood there and sang the first two verses of the song alone with an acoustic guitar. While not nearly as monumental as Clapton doing "Layla" acoustically, it was a fascinating take on the song. Midway through, he switched to electric, brought in the band...and brought down the house.

Mr. Buddy Guy.

"I'm gonna keep on playing the blues man..."

The only way to know Buddy Guy has been around for so many years is the talent and stage presence. You sure can't tell his age by watching him. As he strolled onstage wearing his ever-present baseball cap, it was evident by his gait this was a man who still found pleasure in taking his spot behind the microphone. Buddy Guy is quite a character. A living legend, he has garnered enough points over the years to tell the to audience "shut up" as they applaud him, so he can tell a little anecdote about another musician. Buddy Guy, so respected, spends a lot of time complimenting other musicians.

He said a few times during the show that he doesn't rehearse.  He knows what he has to do...he just expects the band to keep up with him...and they did.

Starting out with "Nobody Understands Me Like My Guitar," Buddy showed what the old guitar masters have learned. You don't always need to make your guitar scream...sometimes it's best to let it weep.

"We're gonna do something so can smell it."

The blues standard "While You Were Steppin' Out (Someone Else Was Steppin' In),"  had everyone singing along. Just great stuff.. Buddy sang a song called "I'm 74 Years Young" ...his story of the blues. He ends the song saying "I wrote that song 2 years ago." Yes, 76 years young and the man had a smile on his face throughout the entire set. At one point Buddy left the stage still playing, and worked his way through the crowd. He walked through the lower level seating and ended up in the balcony, not missing a beat.

Truly inspiring.

The Jam

When you have two great guitarists on the same bill, there is an expectation they will jam. This night had both Buddy and Jonny together...and a young guitarist whose name you will want to remember. A great rendition of Junior Wells "Little by Little," gave way to the entrance of a 13 year old boy by the name of Quinn Sullivan.

According to Buddy, he first heard Quinn play at the age of 7. Well, Mr. Buddy Guy knows the blues and this kid is the real deal. Technically, he was the best guitarist on stage that night. To say the entire crowd was blown away by Quinn Sullivan is an understatement. He didn't sing at all Saturday night, and watching a few of his videos, I can't wait until he grows into his voice. Sharing the stage with two guitar greats, he had the attitude any lead guitarist should have...been there, done that, now just shut up and listen. Yeah, he's that good.

Here's a clip from a recent show where he opened for Buddy...Quinn Sullivan.
Remember the name.

My profile says "I've always been a rocker, but you can't beat the blues."...well, this was one great night of blues.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bob Welch: A Tribute From A Sentimental Lady

Maybe I don't remember or maybe it's just age catching up, but I don't recall a year with so many musical artists deaths.  Now we have another one...Bob Welch.

Reports indicate Bob Welch died yesterday at his home in Nashville of a self inflicted gunshot wound.

An early member of Fleetwood Mac, Bob Welch played a big part in the music style of the band moving from  a edgy blues band to a more melodic group, where it has enjoyed such monumental success. His resignation from the band brought about the next major change in the Fleetwood Mac line-up, as Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined the group.

"Your eyes got me dreaming, your eyes got me blind
Your eyes got me hoping, that I'll be holding you close tonight."

A guitarist and writer, Bob Welch also had a voice. And once you heard it, you would never forget it. The first time I heard "Sentimental Lady," the blend of vocal, lyric and melody was so beautiful, it could just about lift you off the ground. And once you heard the opening rift of "Ebony Eyes" you were hooked on the song for life.

Rather than taste the studio versions, let's have a live taste of three of Bob Welch's best and one more, not quite as well known song.

"Hypnotized"  live with Mick Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on bass and Christine McVie doing backup vocals.
"Sentimental Lady" live from the same show
"Ebony Eyes" live with Stevie Nicks

"You are here and warm, but I could look away and you'd be gone..."

Easy journey Bob.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Canadian Exchange: An Interview with The Trews' Colin MacDonald

The Trews (L-R) Jack Syperek (bass), John-Angus MacDonald (lead guitar), Sean Dalton (drums), Colin MacDonald (lead vocals,guitar) Photo by David Bastedo

The Plan seems to be working.

  • Form a band with family and friends. Check.
  • Win a radio station battle of the bands. Check.
  • Release an album, have it certified gold. Check.
  • Watch a single reach #1. Check.
  • Do it again. Check.

The Trews have done all of the above… and much more. Originally from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, brothers Colin and John-Angus MacDonald, cousin Sean Dalton and long-time friend Jack Syperek, have moved up the ranks from a small town band to a must-see act north of the border... as well as Australia and Europe. Along with non-stop touring in their own country, The Trews are now working their way through the United States in support of their 2011 release Hope and Ruin. Slowly but surely, they are building a loyal fan base by delivering high energy performances and lots of media work.

With 12 singles in the Canadian Top 10, including two #1 songs, The Trews have enjoyed a successful career, spanning four studio and two live albums. Over the years, The Trews have shared the stage with Guns N’ Roses, Kiss, Cheap Trick, The Tragically Hip, Kid Rock, Southside Johnny, Robert Plant and oh yes, The Rolling Stones.

Awards? They’ve had a few. Canadian honors include being five time nominees of the Juno Award, and being four time winners of the East Coast Music Award. The Trews are also two-time winners of the U.S. Independent Music Award.

At the tail end of their latest trek through the lower forty-eight, Trews lead vocalist Colin MacDonald graciously spent some time answering a few questions about music, influences and life on the road.

Kat’s Theory (KT): The Trews have made inroads in Europe and Australia, and are now stepping into the American music scene. Given the present state of commercial radio in the States, do you feel college radio or classic rock stations offer the greatest opportunity to get airplay?
Colin MacDonald (CM): Radio is still important but there are many ways for bands to break these days. We like getting radio play but we also connect to our fans through social media and an INSANE amount of touring

KT: Social networking has definitely changed the face of PR in the music business. The band seems to have a knack for it and is using it in some interesting ways. Thoughts on internet promotion?
CM: Social networking is only useful if you are making great music otherwise it's a waste of time. I happen to think we make great music, so it is helpful to spread the word about our band. But I get sick and tired of celebs that tweet their every meaningless whim and thought, that's just silly

KT: The Trews are doing a couple of more weeks in the U.S. then heading back to Canada. Bouncing in and out of the states and traveling by van is a slow, hard way to build a new fan base. It also shows your determination to make that fan base a solid one. What have you learned from your approach?
CM: Touring this much makes you weird and insane but we love to play and we love the people who support our band.

Photo by David Bastedo
KT: In 2009, The Trews released a second acoustic album called Friends & Total Strangers, and you did a 30 city tour in support of it. How hard was it after being on stage for a week or so, not to kick it up and go full out rock?
CM: The acoustic shows were a welcome change for us. It gave us a chance to focus on different aspects of our sound and explore our musicality, and not just rely on high energy rawk. It was also a welcome break on our tender ears that have all been damaged from INSANE amounts of touring.

KT: The Trews have shared the stage with The Stones, Guns ‘N Roses and Kiss, among others. Opening for Robert Plant across Canada had to be a thrill. Can you tell me a behind the scenes story.
CM: It was a dream come true, and of course a thrill. Robert Plant got mad at us for covering "Bohemian Rhapsody" in Edmonton Alberta. He reprimanded our drummer Sean in Calgary, and Sean's quote about the incident was "If you told me ten years ago that'd I'd be on tour with Robert Plant and he'd be reprimanding me backstage for covering "Bohemian Rhapsody", I would have said not in a billion years”.

KT: There have been descriptions of your sound being influenced by everyone from the obvious Canadian choices: The Guess Who and BTO, to Bob Seger, and my own thoughts of some REM and early Springsteen. Who were your early musical influences
CM: All of those guys, I am very flattered by these comparisons. We also like a lot of newer bands like 'The Shins' and 'Cadillac Black' . We are all big 'Tragically Hip' fans as well.

KT: Diverse is a word I would use to describe both your musical style and career. From hard rocking tunes like “Hold Me in Your Arms” to releasing a couple of acoustic albums, to easy rockers such as “If You Want To Start Again”, The Trews have produced quite an interesting mix of music. Has your sound come about from each member bringing in a different influence or is it a natural progression on the band?
CM: It’s a bit of both. Hope & Ruin was definitely a more collaborative effort so it was a combination of influences, whereas in the past, I have been a little more dominant in the songwriting process.

                       "take me away from all of this,
                        take me away with just one kiss."

KT: I recently saw an interview with the band where you mentioned your writing does not usually come from personal experiences. But hearing the lyrics and haunting vocal of a song like “Stay With Me”, it’s hard to think it wasn’t inspired by real life. Tell me a bit about how that song came together.
CM: “Stay With Me” was a melodic idea developed by Sean and John-Angus. The song is about love and obsession and not wanting to ever let go.
KT: In April, I saw The Trews open for Southside Johnny in my home state of New Jersey. It was the week of Levon Helm’s passing and both acts paid tribute to The Band’s drummer. The Trews joined Johnny at the end of the show for “The Weight.” With the 2 bands on stage and the entire audience standing and singing, it became one of those moments at a show where the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. What was it like for the band?
CM: You described it perfectly, what else can I add, the hairs in our beards stood up.

KT: Working with your brother, cousin and good friend has both an up side and a down side. When you’re not touring, are you all able run away from each other for a while, or do you just go back to writing and hanging out together?
CM: Every time we get off the road we stay away from each other for about a week, but we end up hanging out again after that. When I get home, I don't want to look at a guitar for about a week, I need to get away and clear my head.

"tonight I'll drink until the sun comes up,
             cause I don't care no more,  I'm  gonna fill my cup.
              Life isn't fair for sure, it's clear I've had enough
              and I can't stop laughing"

KT: A good drinking song is hard to find these days.  “I Can’t Stop Laughing” is a great one. 
CM: We wrote that tune about a bar in our hometown of Antigonish called Pipers Pub. We used to get drunk there all the time and I like that we commemorated it in a song.

KT: This tour has been in support of Hope and Ruin, which has had four singles released, that’s a pretty good shelf life in today’s age of the download. Are there plans for another single to be released?
CM: Personally, I would like to release one of the ballads, but we'll see….

KT: Multiple Choice: Taking the stage, watching the crowd sing your songs back to you, or the standing ovation at the end of the show…which one of the three gets your heart pumping the hardest?
CM: All of the above, nothing tops the energy of a great crowd.

KT: Finally, Speaking to an American audience, give me your best PR push for the music of The Trews.
CM: As said by an American seeing our band live for the first time: “Y'all are pretty good for a bunch of Canadians”.

Indeed they are. 

Many thanks to Colin MacDonald for taking the time.
Eternal gratitude... or something like that to Jeff Kilgour of the Tijuana Gift Shop and John Porter of Mood Indigo Entertainment for the heavy lifting.

For more information on The Trews:
The Trews Website 
The Trews on Facebook
The Trews on MySpace
On Twitter @thetrews

Article first published as A Canadian Exchange: An Interview with The Trews' Colin MacDonald on Technorati.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Got It Covered: A Song For You

"I've been so many places in my life and times
I've sung a lot of songs, I've made some bad rhymes.
I've acted out my love in stages, with ten thousand people watching
But we're alone now and I'm singing this song for you."

So begins the taste of the day. It has been said Elton John has called this song an American Classic. It has been covered by countless artists and for my is one of the most beautifully written love songs ever.

"A Song For You" was written by Leon Russell. He recorded it for his 1970 self-titled solo album.

"I know your image of me is what I hope to be 

I treated you unkindly, but darling can't you see 
There's no one more important to me, baby can't you please see through me 
Cause we're alone now and I'm singing this song for you"

Transcending all music genres, it has been covered by artists as diverse as Andy Williams, Willie Nelson, Herbie Hancock & Christina Aguilera, Joe Cocker, Cher, Aretha, Mavis Staples, Neil Diamond, The Temptations, Simply Red, Whitney Houston and Bizzy Bone (featuring DMX & Chris Noetz)...just to name a few.

"You taught me precious secrets of the truth withholding nothing 

You came out in front when I was hiding, but now I'm so much better 
And if my words don't come together, listen to the melody 
Cause my love is in there hiding"

Deciding which covers to use is the hard part. I'll try to highlight a few different styles, taste as many as you like.

"I love you in a place where there's no space or time 

I love you for my life, you are a friend of mine 
And when my life is over, remember when we were together 
We were alone and I was singing this song for you 

We were alone and I was singing this song for you" 

"A Song For You"  Ray Charles
"A Song For You"   Simply Red
"A Song For You"  Amy Winehouse
"A Song For You"  Joe Cocker
"A Song For You" Herbie Hancock & Christina Aguilera
and from the composer... "A Song For You"  Leon Russell

Lyrically simple, again it shows it ain't always what you write but how you write it.

Just singing this song...for you.