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, August 31, 2012

Feelin Flush: Musically Turning Up The Heat, Southern Style

Sometimes, you just need a little help from fate.

Chuck Taylor, Lucas Hack
If not for his family moving from Indiana to South Carolina, chances are Lucas Hack would never have met Chuck Taylor. But destiny played her hand, and the band they formed, Feelin Flush has just released their first album.

Born of Southern and Classic Rock, Blues and American Roots, the new release by FeelinFlush features flawless guitar work, crisp vocals, imaginative lyrics and sweet melodies.

Since they began playing together in 2010, Hack and Taylor have worked toward getting their music heard beyond their geographic area. That part of their dream was realized last week, when their self-titled debut album was released.

A few days after the album went live, lead vocalist Lucas Hack spoke with me about the past, the present and the future.  

Kat’s Theory (KT) Lucas, How did an Indiana boy end up in a band in South Carolina?
Lucas Hack (LH): When I was in high school, my parents… they’re boat people and when you live in Indiana, there’s not a whole lot of water. So they wanted to head south and enjoy the ocean. I finished out school there (Indiana) and took one last winter, and said you know what, I want to go down south where the weather’s warm and where there are beaches and mountains.

KT: How did you and Chuck meet?
LH: It’s kind of funny cause me and Chuck used to run around years ago and the thing was, we both played guitar and never once thought of hanging out and jammin’ or anything. We just hung out with friends and one day it was just one of those things where it lined up, and we said“hey you want to get the guitars?” We had so much fun, it just kind of evolved into what we have now.

Cover Art by Chuck Murray
KT: The name Feelin Flush is also the name of  one of the songs on the album. Tell me how  the name came about?
That’s actually an interesting process coming  up with the band name and when you’re writing  music. The song “Feelin Flush” is actually about calling in sick from work and going fishing. It  reminded me back when I was younger, when you  tried to fake sick when you were going to school, and you tried to get your face all hot and say “hey Mom you know I’m not feeling well.” And my Mom would always come over and say “well you are feelin kinda flushed.”So when we really sat and talked about it, that kind of embodied us because feelin flush is just a physical feeling brought on by emotion. And that’s kind of what we want to do in our music. And it’s got a southern ring to it, and we’ve got a little bit of southern in our music.

KT: That’s one of the things I like about it. I kind of have a soft spot for southern rock and southern blues. A lot of great bands came out of the south…even to this day. I just think they get it right most of the time.
LH: For sure, there’s so much energy down here when it comes to music, you know it dates back so far. I love it. I don’t even consider myself a northern boy anymore. I’ve been down here 15, 16 years and I call it home.

KT: Your bio said you and Chuck put a plan together to record an album. Well, the album is out. Question is: did it all work out according to the plan?
LH: Yeah, without a doubt. You know when we sat down and decided to do the album; it was more that we just wanted people to hear the music. That’s where we were at. We were sitting down writing these songs, and we were having so much fun and you have people stopping by and listening and getting excited.

We were doing acoustic shows and people were liking it so we were gonna do an acoustic album. Mike Martin (guitarist) from Stuck Mojo was going to produce it out of Atlanta, but it would have been too difficult trying to do the album and a six hour commute, so we decided to do the production of it here. There’s a producer Corey Plaugh, who lives here in South Carolina, he’s one of the best and he got on board with the mixing and mastering. We ended up with something we really love and we’re really proud of it. We are just excited to get it out there for everybody.

"Takin a trip to New Orleans,Voodoo Dolls and tambourines, I know you can, I know you can"

KT: When I heard the opening notes of “I Know You Can,” I was intrigued. It’s a really strong first release, showing off your clean, blues vocal and some sweet guitar work from Chuck. And, I love the imagery of “voodoo dolls and tambourines.” Give me some background on how you guys put it together.
LH: I was up one night watching a White Stripes documentary believe it or not. I’m just sitting there picking the guitar and Jack White had an acoustic session with these elderly people and the vibe of it was so awesome; it had a real country-southern vibe. So that kind of brought the chord progression on to me when I wrote it. But the song is actually about just trips to New Orleans that I used to take with my friends over the years. All the experiences. It’s just a fun place, there’s so much music and energy

It’s just one of my favorite places in the world. I tried to encompass some of the trips I’ve taken back, and some of the memories that I had there, and to bring in the music of it.

KT: The writing process between the two of you…it seems like you put up the building blocks and Chuck comes in with the nails and screws to tighten it up. How do you typically write together?
LH: I’ll write all the rhythm chords to the song and all the arrangements and the lyrics, then I’ll have him in and say “here’s what I’ve got, tell me what you think.” That’s the cool thing about the way that Chuck and I are able to get in each others' head. He’ll just jump right in and put his twist on it, and I always love it. He’s such a brilliant guitar player. We have a lot of fun and it’s hard to kick him out when we’re done playing. We’ll sit there and have a seven hour jam session. Play through two sets of strings.

KT: You don’t do a lot of cover songs. I’ve always felt covers were a good way to connect quickly with an audience; that it gives a feeling of familiarity with the band, and something to build on. Is it difficult at times, performing only originals?
LH: When I play my own stuff, all my emotions that I wrote into it, they come out through the song. When you’re doing a cover song, you’re really just re-doing someone else’s art. There’s some genuine (feeling) there because you love the song, but when you’re doing your own stuff, I feel like I’m really getting my point across.

KT: I hadn’t really thought of it in those terms, as the artistic versus the singing portion of it.
LH: Cover songs are something that have to be done though; it’s instrumental in gaining fans, so I’m slowly, slowly doing it.

 "Don’t you know that you will never see the sky fall again
The sun will rise for another day until I meet my end
Hey Mary why’d you leave us, your life had just begun
Don't you know that there are pictures left that still need to be hung" 

KT: “Marys Portrait,” a sad song about a young woman’s death and thoughts of what might have been. Where did you find the inspiration for it?
LH: Just personal experiences. I’ve had a few friends that have passed away that for sure, had a lot of life ahead of them. And, I think a lot of people have had that. Where someone maybe has left this earth too soon. Maybe that person didn’t realize how important they were to certain people. It’s an emotional song and it’s one of those songs that are tough to play through the first couple of times. You just get so full of memories. Chuck came in and he went through some similar stuff. I love the solo that he put on it, he really embodied the feel that I wanted. That’s definitely one of our more emotional songs.

"And I said, Oh no, where to go, I’ve been high and I’ve been low
Only I know where I’ve been yeah yeah yeah yeah
Said oh no feel real fine, let it run right down my spine
Time to get up with the Wren yeah yeah yeah yeah"

KT: My view of the album is most of the songs are not that complex. And I mean that in a good way. They are clean, uncluttered and catchy. “The Wren” for example, a song with absolutely beautiful guitar work is one you can easily listen to over and over. It’s down to basics. How did you make the choice to just let it breathe naturally?
LH: That’s a good question because we kind of battled that. We didn’t want an overproduced album. We wanted the vocals and lyrics to stand out. We wanted solid rhythms that people could get into and we wanted to have guitar work that is memorable. That’s the direction we headed in. With that song in particular, we wanted a catchy little tune behind it with the solo work, and we wanted the lyrics to stand. We try to play a happy medium and if we feel it’s too over-produced and too cluttered, we take it out.

But really, it’s about being able to play live what is on the album. If we have three or four guitars doing different things, it’s hard to pull that off. So we want to be able to give the listener in an acoustic show, the same sound they would get if they listened to the album with full instruments.

KT: You started playing guitar at the age of 24. What took you so long? 
LH: Well, I never thought about it. I was twenty four and it was funny because I’m doing my thing with my friends around town, and I’m looking around and they’re all musicians. And I’m like “how did this happen?” When I was a kid, I was a 90’s kid, so obviously Nirvana had some influence on me, I used to sit on my couch with a broken guitar and act like I was Kurt Colbain watching Unplugged. That’s how I grew up. And then I thought, why don’t I give this a shot? Let me buy a guitar and see if this is for me. I locked myself in the house for months just playing guitar

KT: And how did you decide to get into a band as opposed to just playing for your own enjoyment?
LH: I think with certain friends, you’re sitting around a campfire and the guitar comes to you, and you jam out a song and everybody goes “Hell yeah. You need to do something with that.” You know, you hear that enough and it’s 'ok, maybe we ought to try something to get this out to more people.' That’s kind of how it got started. I think I sent a text to Chuck and asked if he could play a solo to a Pearl Jam song and that was the first thing we started playing. So he came over, we locked ourselves in the studio for about six hours and jammed out. A year later, this is where we’re at.

KT: Your first album was released this past Monday (August 20). Describe what Sunday, the day before was like.
LH: Hectic. I’m doing some of the managing and a lot of the publicity work and social media. You know you have to be like a web designer. There’s so much you need to know about computers in this business now. We got the web site launched; we have a really cool team of people that are helping out. In this business, you need that. People that believe in your work, people that are gonna step up and help you. And we are grateful for some of the great friends we have.

KT: It’s hard to do it all on your own because there’s just so much to attend to now. Between facebook, twitter, reverb (, there’s just so many outlets that need to be updated constantly.
LH: Absolutely, you know when I was younger and going to shows, bands that took the time to come and hang out with you and talked to you, those bands, if they come out with a new album now, I’m all over it. It’s because I loved those experiences. It’s a lot of work, but it's fun because you get to talk to your fans. I could talk to fans in LondonFeelin Flush fans everywhere. That’s the cool thing about it. It’s an interesting time in music, I think.

KT: What’s lined up as far as live shows?
LH: There’s a place in Columbia where we do a lot of our acoustic stuff...Utopia We’ll come out and play some shows there. Right now we’re just trying to schedule full band shows and get the schedule for everybody cause the other musicians, the guy who did the drum work (Jeff Elmore) and the bass work (Jonas de La Sol), they also have other projects that they do, so they want to make sure they’ve got the time for doing some shows. I’m hoping it’s going to be lined up here in the next couple of weeks. We’ll be doing a spot tour of the Southeast: Charleston, North Carolina, some stuff in Virginia.  

KT: Take a minute and describe the sound and mission of Feelin Flush.
LH: I guess I’ll start out with our mission. Our mission is to get as many people to feel some emotion through our music as we can. To spread your love to the masses and let the people hear what you’re doing. And I guess our sound; we have a blues, southern rock kind of sound that really embodies the Southeast region. We’re a crossover into all areas. I think Chuck and I have had so many bands influence us, we even cross over into Alternative almost. And Americana…Roots. I think it’s an album that spreads across a lot of different genres.

Indeed it does...quite nicely too.

Listen to the Feelin Flush album here Feelin Flush

Feelin Flush Album Credits:
Lucas Hack (Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar), Chuck Taylor (Lead Guitar, Background Vocals), Jonas de La Sol (Bass), Jeff Elmore (Drums), Stot Juru (Strings)

Feelin Flush Links:
Twitter @feelinflush
Article first published as Feelin Flush: Musically Turning Up The Heat, Southern Style on Technorati


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Getting the Shaft: Politicians and Rock Songs

Stick with me for a minute...this one might be a stretch.

It is a year of presidential politics...god help us. While there's still plenty of time for me to get into that little can of worms, today is the anniversary of a horrible trend which still continues today. The use or rather misuse of rock songs by politicians.

In an effort to appear "hip," throughout the past twenty years or so, candidates have hijacked perfectly good rock songs and used them as their entrance music, background music, or their mantra. Now if an artist is endorsing the candidate and allows the music to be used, that is one thing. However, just grabbing a song because a line from it fits your platform...well isn't that what they always complain happens to them...taking something out of context. duh.

Well, on this day in 1996 Isaac Hayes, who co-wrote the famous Sam & Dave song "Soul Man," sent a cease and desist letter to Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole to stop using his song in the campaign. Apparently supporters of Bob Dole had changed the lyrics to, get this... "I'm a Dole Man." ugh.

And how can we forget when Ronald Reagan invoked a great patriot Bruce Springsteen and his flag-waving song "Born in the USA." Now, I would never disagree that Bruce is a patriot, but did anyone bother to actually listen to the song before old Ronnie used it in a speech. didn't think so.

Added to the list of song-swiping politicians are: John McCain using Jackson Browne's "Running on Empty," Sarah Palin with Heart's "Barracuda," George W. Bush with the Orleans song "Still the One," and most recently Newt Gingrich using Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger."

But it isn't only Republicans making the major faux pas. Sam Moore of Sam & Dave apparently wasn't thrilled with Barack Obama using the song "Hold On, I'm Coming."

So in honor of the late Isaac Hayes and his letter writing to Bob Dole, I offer you his most famous song and the one whose title defines the effect on the artists when their songs are hijacked.


shut your mouth.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Road Trip: Newport Bound

It's been a long hard road, these past few months. Tomorrow...time for a double dose of R&R. A little Rest and Relaxation...and a little Rock&Roll. It's gonna be a good day.

Look out Newport, this force of nature will be blowing into town tomorrow. Now, I'm a Northeast girl. Love the New England states...fits my style. Newport is pretty much the start of all good things, as far as I'm concerned. Beautiful coastline, ocean breezes, and chowdah. Yeah baby...fresh seafood and chowder, the way it should be. My hardest decision tomorrow will be if I crack a beer with my clams and lobster...or pop the wine bottle. It's gonna be a good day.

After an afternoon of enjoying the town, it's off to the Naval base. Sailors...yes, but not the focus of the excursion. Friends of this blog, rock group Survivor, will be "putting it all on the line" for the troops and a few friends who've decided to stop by. Oh yeah, and there will be lots of sailors too :)  And fireworks. It's gonna be a good day.

So I need a few road songs for the trip.

Allman Brothers "Jessica" ...can't tell you how many road trips there have been where this has started the journey
Edwin Starr "25 Miles"...  come on feet, start movin' to get me there
Aretha "Freeway of Love" ...the first lady getting a groove on
Sammy Hagar "I Can't Drive 55" ...well, i can't
Wilson Pickett "Mustang Sally" ...nobody does it better

And to get me ready for the show...

Survivor "Feels Like Love"

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

Damn, it's gonna be a great day.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Little Soul Shine for a Sad Day

A year ago today, two souls were taken from this earth, when a tragic fire took the lives of a mother and daughter. I knew the daughter, my best friend was lucky to have known them both. It's been a mournful week around here. Another friend lost her Mom, I lost my Dad...and today this sad anniversary.

It's a time for reflection, no doubt. So I'm merging the two blogs from last year dealing with the loss. And, I'm including the same song because...well no other one could say it better.

The Life blog...

"Every friendship is different. Some are light and easy...let's go out for a drink, laugh and enjoy each other's company, but not the type where you bare your soul. Some are more high maintenance, where one person has a drama filled life which they need to suck you into.

Then there are the ones which transend time and space. You know the ones where you might not speak to someone for months at a time, but can still pick up the phone and connect to where you were the last time you spoke. It's a deep bond, one of love and respect. It's a feeling of knowing that in a perfect world you would have more time for each other, but the world will never be perfect and life always seems to get in the way. I have a friend like that.

I write this today because her heart is breaking. She has lost a friend she loved to a tragic accident, and while in touch until the end, missed one last chance to connect with her. Mourn her loss, but take comfort in knowing through all the years, you were there for her. Her life was not easy, at times she was a lost soul. Yet, you always looked out for her, even protected her during her fragile moments.

I've always felt that true friends give what they can to each other. Sometimes friendship is defined by accepting the limitations that come with it. Accept what is offered and return what you can.

Except if you are ending a friendship, one moment in time never determines the relationship. It is built on the days, months and years that have bonded you together. T, find peace in that.

Go with God, Barbara."

The Music blog...

"Sometimes a lunch is just a lunch.  Sometimes it's a chance to reconnect to times long ago.  If you've had a lunch filled with bittersweet memories, time to let your soul shine.

"It's better than sunshine,
Better than moonshine,
Damn sure better than rain."

A good thought or happy memory can push out the sad ones. Music goes one step farther.  Settle into "Soulshine" by the Allman Brothers, recorded live at the Beacon Theatre NYC in 2003.

Souls fly away, memories live on".


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Smoky Jazz for a Rainy Night

Let's set the stage.

A rainy night in Chicago. As she lights her cigarette, the tall brunette looks out her street-side window. She is waiting.

She sips a glass of Merlot, looks at the perfectly set table...then at the clock. The tear in her eye slowly falls down her cheek as she curses him, and herself for thinking it would be different... this time.

Some slow, sultry jazz to fit the mood.

Miles Davis "Blue in Green"

Inhale deeply.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Feeling The H.E.A.T.

When a lead singer is replaced, chances are a lot of people are not gonna be happy about it.

Over the years, Steve Perry was replaced in Journey first by Steve Augeri, then Jeff Scott Soto, and now Arnel Pineda has the job. Styx replaced Dennis DeYoung with Lawrence Gowan. Sammy Hagar took over for David Lee Roth in Van Halen, Jimi Jamison entered when Dave Bickler left Survivor and Michael McDonald stepped in for Tom Johnston as the head Doobie Brothers singer. Obviously some changes were more successful than others.

With his debut on their third release, today's taste has also gone through a lead singer replacement. Lead singer  Erik Grönwall has taken up the vocal duties from original lead singer Kenny Leckremo, for the Swedish band H.E.A.T.

After a very successful self-titled initial release in 2008, their 2010 CD Freedom Rock built on their popularity, but had a different type of production and style. Enter Erik Grönwall for lead vocals on the third studio album by H.E.A.T., entitled Address The Nation.

For shits and giggles, let's do a little comparison of vocal styles of the two.

Featuring Kenny Leckremo:

"Follow Me"
"There for You"

With new lead singer Erik Grönwall:

"Better Off Alone"

Since he joined the band in 2010, there has been enough passage of time for Grönwall to turn around the initial resistance. Whether that translates to continued success...we will wait and see.

In the meantime, take a listen.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Minutes to Memories: Celebrating My Dad's Life

Dad's Hohner
If you've been reading Kat's Theory of Life along with this music blog, you know I have been chronicling my fathers'  no-win battle against pancreatic cancer. He lost that fight on Tuesday. His final chapter appears in the Life blog, but because to me music is life, I wanted to celebrate the life he led, the lessons he taught and the love he shared.

The song I've chosen defines the character of my father.

"Minutes to Memories" by John Mellencamp
I had tears in my eyes the first time I heard this song...and every time I've heard it since. It has always made me think of my father. An old man tries to impart the wisdom of his years on a young stranger sitting next to him on a long bus ride.  It always reminded me of times growing up, when I, as all of us do, thought I had all the answers. 

"On a Greyhound thirty miles beyond Jamestown
He saw the sun set on the Tennessee line
Looked at the young man who was riding beside him
He said I'm old kind of worn out inside

I worked my whole life in the steel mills near Gary
My father before me I helped build this land
Now seventy-seven and with God as my witness
I earned every dollar that passed through my hands

My family and friends are the best things I've known
Through the eye of the needle I'll carry them home"

The man talks of his hard working life, same as my father who did hard factory work all his life. A career path he chose over the medical field he loved...because what was more important to him, was to have a family.

"The rain hit the old dog in the twilight's last gleaming
He said 'Son it sounds like rattling old bones
This highway is long but I know some that are longer
By sunup tomorrow I guess I'll be home'

Through the hills of Kentucky 'cross the Ohio river
The old man kept talking 'bout his life and his times
He fell asleep with his head against the window
He said an honest man's pillow is his peace of mind

This world offers riches and riches will grow wings
I don't take stock in those uncertain things"

Days turn to minutes
And minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams
That we have planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out
And be the best you can"

The line "an honest man's pillow is his peace of mind." That was my dad. It was no coincidence he was born on February 12... "Honest Abe" Lincoln's birthday.

"The old man had a vision but it was hard for me to follow
I do things my way and I pay a high price
When I think back on the old man and the bus ride
Now that I'm older I can see he was right

Another hot one out on highway eleven
This is my life It's what I've chosen to do
There are no free rides No one said it'd be easy
The old man told me this my son i'm telling it to you"

Isn't this the truth of each generation? Not too long after we realize we don't have all the answers, we see our children with the same familiar swagger and bravado. And we watch them learn through trial and error just like us.

Days turn to minutes
And minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams
That we have planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out
And be the best you can"

He toughed is out every day of his life and he was the best he could be...always.

That is my song for my dad. Here are a few of his favorites. Except for my brother, I can almost guarantee no one reading this will have heard of most of these songs. And since my brother never reads anything I write, these songs will be a new experience for all of you.

Harry Belafonte  "Jamaica Farewell" of my earliest musical memories was of my dad strumming his guitar and singing this song to me. 
Eddy Howard  "To Each His Own" parents' song.
Terry Gilkyson  "Marianne" ...a silly song he would play on the guitar, I never forgot the name of the singer.
Roy Acuff  "Wabash Cannonball" ...perhaps the song we associate the most with my father. you can't beat a song written about a train
Andy Williams "Hawaiian Wedding Song" ...after five trips to hawaii, this was his song of choice
Lee Greenwood  "Battle Hymn of the Republic" mother said he knew the words to all the verses, something I never did.

That was my dad. His journey is complete. His life was hard at times, but I know for certain he regretted none of the choices he made. Thanks so much for coming along on this part of the road trip.

Easy journey Pops.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Got It Covered: Ain't No Sunshine

When today's taste first hit the charts, I was not a fan. It took a while for me to warm up to it, but after a while I was able to appreciate all the aspects which make it one great song. It was released in 1971, written and performed by Bill Withers. The song is "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone."

"Ain't no sunshine when she's gone 
It's not warm when she's away. 
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone 
And she's always gone too long 
Anytime she goes away."

A better pedigree in putting together a record you would be hard pressed to find. Withers doing a haunting vocal with a simple guitar. Bring in Duck Dunn on bass, Al Jackson Jr. on drums and featuring a sweet string arrangement by Booker T. Just another example of the incredible session talent found in the city of Memphis during the 60's and 70's.

"Wonder this time where she's gone 
Wonder if she's gone to stay 
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone 
And this house just ain't no home 
Anytime she goes away."

While Bill Wither's sets the standard, over the years there have been so many great covers of this song.

Let's just taste a few: "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone"

Bill Withers...setting the bar
Michael Jackson...recorded in 1972, a very young Michael. While the intro is unnecessary, the vocal of the song shows the promise of the incredible talent still to come.
Sting..with a slam dunk sax thanks to David Sanborn
Tracy Chapman & Buddy Guy...sweet duet
Carlos Santans & Rob Thomas...totally different interpretation thanks to Carlos
Jeff Beck Band...featuring Bob Tench on vocals
Aaron one sounds like Aaron Neville
Joan outstanding version

Taste a few or taste 'em all.

and I know, I know, I know, I know, I know...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

One Singular Sensation: Marvin Hamlisch

Marvin Hamlisch died yesterday. While not the household name he was in the 70's and 80's, his body of work will stand in history as both remarkable and enviable.

Eleven people in entertainment history have been awarded the EGOT collection, comprised of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award...Marvin Hamlisch was one of them. And to go one better, only he and Richard Rogers have won those four awards as well as a Pulitzer Prize.

In 1973 he wrote the theme for "The Way We Were" sung by Barbra Streisand. A hauntingly poignant song, it perfectly captured the essence of the movie. This was probably where I first became aware of the name Marvin Hamlisch.

Later that year, Hamlisch was called upon to adapt the music of ragtime composer Scott Joplin for a movie starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.  The movie was The Sting, and that soundtrack introduced a new genre of music to millions of young people...I was one of them. Ragtime music was joyful, playful and brilliant. The way Hamlisch nuanced every scene with the perfect injection of that music was spectacular. A single of the theme from the movie "The Entertainer," hit #1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Chart and #3 on the Hot 100. Back then, good music crossed over the charts.

He won the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony for a little Broadway Musical, you might have heard the name; A Chorus Line. One of the longest running and most successful musicals in history, its hit numbers included "I Hope I Get It,", "What I Did For Love," and the show-stopping "One."

Now, Broadway musicals are not everyone's cup of tea. So how about a theme from a Bond movie?  Yeah, he co-wrote "Nobody Does It Better" from The Spy Who Loved Me.

Marvin Hamlisch was a genius. The world is a poorer place without him and his music.

Easy Journey Marvin.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Good Music...A Defining Answer

In my last post "Research? How About Just Listen," I wrote about the latest 'scientific research' which tells us today's pop music is boring, simple and basically uninspired. I also gave a few suggestions for good music, and have since been hearing a whole lot of "well, what about..." and "how could you not include...?"

Was there any specific criteria on which I based what I consider good. Hell no. If you hadn't noticed, check out the name in the title of the blog. My name, my blog, my rules...Kat's rules. By the way, those rules are subject to change, depending on my mood and for whom they are intended ;)

Basically, good music must make me feel something. It doesn't need to be a masterpiece, but it must be passionate. It doesn't need to be complicated, but it must speak to me. It doesn't need to move mountains, but it needs to move me.

In saying that, let me offer a few more good music selections

Elton John "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" ...complex, yes. but so moving and powerful
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles "Ooh Baby Baby" ...not at all complex, just smooth and soulful
Kenny Wayne Shepherd "Blue on Black" ...smokey blues, killer vocal, great chorus...all you need
Frank Sinatra "The Way You Look Tonight" ...good music isn't just rock, soul, or the blues. it's classics and classical as well.

Maybe it's time to expand your horizons. You may not like it all...but then again you just might.

Just taste it.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Research? How About Just Listen.

Writing a music blog, I get to hear some really bad music. No, I mean some really bad music. Everyone and his cousin who has an interest in the music business sends me links, follows me and wants to be my friend. People who know me are keenly aware..I am not that friendly.

I do however have a few friends and people in high places (well maybe not high, but a bit loftier than me), who give me a head's up for things of interest on the music front. Well, thanks to the 'cat's eyes,' we have a topic to discuss. That subject is pretty much the reason this blog was created in the first place. The state of music today. ugh.

It seems researchers in Spain have compiled musical data from the last fifty years, used crazy algorithms and figured out that the pop music of today is louder and more boring than music from years back. My first question is: Did they really need to do research to figure this out?

The research shows that today's music has less complex chord structure, simpler melodies and well frankly, it is crap. Basically the high, low and depth which makes music sound so layered and complex, has been replaced by extra bass and volume. ugh.

Now, I cannot comprehend the need for this whole research team, which by the way, was led by an "Artificial Intelligence Specialist." That term alone is enough to make me crazy.

Music is something you feel in your heart, something that breaks through to your soul. 
Music is something which can make you cry or bring you out of the bottomless pit of despair.

 I know, it's done it for me.

 Enough talk, let's just listen to what I consider a few really great songs.

First up, one of the greatest musical anthems for imagery, vocals, arrangement, and if you have ever seen it live...performance.

Meat Loaf  "Bat Out Of Hell" ... a masterpiece from Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman. an almost 10 minute roller coaster ride.
Jethro Tull "Heavy Horses" insanely beautifully constructed song. As you listen, take a look at the lyrics. not exactly of the "let me do you on the kitchen table" type of lyric. musically...intense and vibrant.
Bob Marley "Could You Be Loved" ...a great rhythm, message and hell it's Marley.
Bruce Springsteen "Jungleland" ...story, vocal, piano...and the big man.

Now, there are thousands of songs I could have included here, feel free to leave comments on what songs you consider great. These are just used to make a point.. None of these songs were created with a beat machine, auto tune or any other tricks. These songs were written with deep emotion using all the skills necessary to create brilliant musical arrangements... full of passion.

One thing I can guarantee, long after we are all gone from this earth, another generation will hear the opening riff of "Layla" and smile. Can the same be said of 95% of the songs you will hear today?

Didn't think so.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Night With The Outlaws

I'm sorry, but there is nothing better to get you into a great mood than a little lot of good old southern rock. There's just something about a band wearing cowboy hats and playing kick ass music, that sends me to a much finer place. Last night, I was lucky enough to enjoy a double dose.

Wednesday August 1, Bergen Performing Arts Center: Crawdaddy and The Outlaws. Sweet.

This show was kind of a last minute deal, having only decided on Sunday to attend. That was a good job by us.

"We'll never know what could have been. 
We can only look back and imagine."

That quote appears on a sign hung on the piano of the night's opening act: Crawdaddy.

Crawdaddy is a Lynyrd Skynrd tribute band. This night we were treated with the drumming of Artimus Pyle, original member of Skynrd and a survivor of the horrific plane crash which killed six people including three members of the band. Artimus Pyle was one of three men who crawled out from the wreckage and walked through swampy woods in search of help, nearly ending up a victim of a local farmer who thought the men were escapees from a nearby prison.

Back to the music. When I think southern rock, I think lots of guitars, a few backup singers and a big drum kit. Check. Oh, and it needs to be loud and rockin'. Double check.

From "Gimme Two Steps" to "The Breeze" the joint was jumping. Throwing in a little "old fashioned honky tonk," "I Know a Little About Love" and of course a spot-on version of "Sweet Home Alabama," Crawdaddy set the tone for one great night of rock.

This is why you should always check out the opening act.  Otherwise you would just miss too much fun.

The Outlaws

Now in April, I did a blog post on The Outlaws called "Time To Kick It Up: Outlaw Style."  At that time, I had no idea I would be seeing them a few months later. So here are a few thoughts on seeing them live.

Thought #1: Yeah
Thought #2 Hell Yeah.

I lost count at the number of standing ovations The Outlaws received last night. The first was three songs in, after a killer rendition of "Hurry Sundown." And, that was after a wicked version of "There Goes Another Love Song."  It was hard to find anyone without a smile of their face.

This night, the band mixed in a lot of newer material along with the old classics and you know was all good. It's a shame that even Sirius radio does not have a channel where classic rockers can get their newer music played (though they might be moving in that direction). Their new album "Its About Pride" will be released this September.  The title song, which they played last night, reflects what has been their reason for pushing on all these years. Pride in being in a band that has endured, and pride in the product they have produced.

I'll say one thing, these boys are having a real good time. Unlike so many bands today, where interaction between the members is limited to a nod or a glare...every member from original lead vocalist Henry Paul, original drummer Monte Yoho to veteran guitarists Billy Crain and Chris Anderson to bass player Randy Threet and Keyboardist Dave Robbins...these guys really seem to like each other. In a business where that is not always the was real nice to see. No southern rock band is complete without a trio of backup singers, and these girls rocked it out all night.

At one point Henry talked about playing the old Capitol Theatre in Passaic, something like a hundred years ago. That is where this girl grew her rock & roll teeth. For me, that was a nice trip down memory lane and was much appreciated by a friendly crowd, many of whom had most likely been there too.

The set ended with a full length version of "Green Grass and High Tides." I think this was when I tweeted a picture with one  Encore was "Ghost Riders in the Sky," Kick ass, smokin' and still a great vocal.

A killer night of music. yippee-ki-yay.

More pictures on Kat's Theory FaceBook page.