Explicit Lyrics in an explicit culture

I know I’m probably saying something you either don’t care about or you don’t agree with, but I can’t help but notice that most of the top-selling songs on iTunes have little red “E’s” with ‘em, indicating explicit lyrics. So what, you say? Well, the youth of America–and the world–are growing up with mostly explicit song lyrics in our way-too-explicit culture. Look at some of the titles: “I Don’t F** With You,” “That’s My S**t,” and “Hot Ni**a.”

I bring this up because I recently sang for Korean and WWII war veterans and we talked about the classic songs of yesteryear– the ones they grew up with. Those were songs about tender love, courtship, and kindness. One man asked me and the group of vets, “What are kids these days going to be singing when they’re old like us? Rap?” He has a point. For every “All of Me” by John Legend, which could easily be played at weddings for years to come, there are 100 explicit songs that cater to the lowest of the low… rather than making music that lifts people up, we’ve got lots of low down dirty sex anthems meant to tell young people that they should just get what they want– some quick pleasure– without love or commitment. It’s sad, really. The coarsening of culture has resulted in little kids telling their teachers to “f-off!” Is this what you want for society?

I’m probably falling on deaf ears. Sales charts tell us what sells and by the looks of it, you’d be lucky to have a hit/get attention/get money without using explicit language in music these days. This bothers me– that, as a culture, people have either thrown their hands up in the air and said, “We can’t stop it so we’ll just live with it” or “I LOVE this music/artist.”

Next time a 10-year-old swears at you, telling you to get “the f**k outta my way motherf**cker,” they’re learning that somewhere– and it’s not hard to discover where– just look at the big hits on the music charts. –Mark Weber Music Blog

Something for Coltrane fans to be excited about

John Coltrane fans have something to be excited about: So Many Things, the European Tour 1961 features 300 minutes of music on 4 CDs.

“There are so many things to be considered in making music,” John Coltrane told an interviewer during his first European tour as a bandleader in the autumn of 1961. “Many things on which I don’t think I’ve reached a final conclusion.”

Indeed, the music Coltrane made on this trip took audiences to the very cutting edge, leaving many questions unanswered, even for the saxophonists most ardent fans. For some he had taken the fundamentals of modern jazz to breaking point, thrusting it into “the realms of higher mathematics” as one bewildered journalist put it.

To others, Coltrane was the voice of progress, bravely reasserting the exploratory nature of jazz, daring to push his core repertoire through a process of continual reinvention, taking himself, his fellow players and those who flocked to hear him on an impassioned journey of discovery, night after night. Coltrane’s performances were now akin to opening Pandora’s Box. “There are all sorts of moods involved,” wrote one partisan jazz writer of the tenor players playing during the tour: “deep power…warmth…gracefulness…so many things.”

Playing over 30 concert appearances in under three weeks, the band criss-crossed the continent from France to Finland, taking its message to far larger crowds than could be squeezed into its club sets back in the US.

These recordings have since acquired almost legendary status and have previously only been available in sporadic fashion, but for the first time ever, this new release collates tapes made by the quintet in Paris, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Stockholm, creating a truly cool anthology of this short-lived band at its peak.

Newly remastered for optimum sound quality, along with examples of Coltrane’s landmark compositions Naima and Impressions, this collection also includes the saxophonists only recording of Victor Young’s theme Delilah and, as a bonus, a stunning rare “second house” performance of Coltrane’s transformational anthem My Favourite Things taped in Stockholm.

So Many Things, the European Tour 1961 features photographs, concert memorabilia and press clippings, and comes complete with an extensive booklet essay by award-winning British saxophonist and writer Simon Spillett.

Hard rockers Sweet and Lynch team up for Only To Rise album

Stryper‘s Michael Sweet and Dokken/Lynch Mob guitarist George Lynch have combined their talents and long running legacy of hard rocking excellence together in the project Sweet & Lynch. The outfit will release their debut album, Only to Rise, on January 27th via Frontiers Music.

And while Sweet and Lynch’s names form the moniker of their partnership, their band also includes a pair of well-known rock names. Brian Tichy, who has spent time behind the kit with rockers like Whitesnake, Billy Idol and Ozzy Osbourne, will man the drums for the band, while James Lomenzo, who has enjoyed stints in Megadeth, Black Label Society and White Lion, is handling bass duties.

“When I was approached to help put together an all-star lineup, I initially thought of George Lynch,” says Sweet, who also produced the album. “George is one of the most talented guitarists out there and a ‘bucket list’ player for me. George wrote riffs/basic ideas and I wrote melodies, lyrics and arranged and completed the songs. I knew that we would compliment each other’s style.”

Sweet goes on to add, “When you add the amazing rhythm section of Brian Tichy and James Lomenzo, you just can’t go wrong with this lineup. It really is a special project and I’m honored to be part of it.”

The music video for the song “Dying Rose” was shot in a warehouse in Los Angeles and directed by Devin DeHaven, known for his work with Rick Ross, Whitesnake, Kiss and R. Kelly to name a few. The video can be seen here:

Scott Bradlee reinvents songs with Postmodern Jukebox

I met Scott Bradlee after his Postmodern Jukebox performance at Bemus Point, NY. I had to congratulate him in person on the tremendous success he has found not only as a musician, but also as someone doing something innovative in the music industry these days.

Bradlee takes popular songs from today and yesteryear and reinvents them in a jazzy style, complete with extremely popular YouTube videos which get millions of hits. Why? Because they’re top-notch, from the singing to the musicianship, and the arrangements to Bradlee’s lively piano playing.

So who is Scott Bradlee, and where did he come from? Born in Long Island, NY, he became a jazz fan and eventually found work in NYC’s jazz scene as both a performer and a music director. His brilliant move to set himself apart from every other pianist in the city was when he mixed pop music with ragtime-style piano as well as taking a song from one genre–say, rock, for instance–and giving it a different musical genre spin, such as “Motown” or “New Orleans jazz.”

Being that NYC is a collaborative place for musicians to meet and work together, Bradlee formed a group called Postmodern Jukebox in 2013. Basically, he’s at the center with his piano, and a rotating mixture of musicians and singers produce YouTube videos with him of pop songs re-done in a jazz, ragtime and swing style. The result? A chance to literally tour the world, as this has proven to be successful.

Do a YouTube search of Postmodern Jukebox and you’re able to find lots of great covers; here are three to give you an idea of the group’s sound and cool visual vibe…

Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way”

Sam Smith’s “I’m Not The Only One”

Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up”

Visit www.postmodernjukebox.com to learn more about this vibrant collective of magnificent music makers. –Mark Weber Music Blog

The return of Toto

Toto is a band I remember from the 1980s, with their big hits “Rosanna” and “Africa.” The band originally formed in 1977 in California, and has been known for combining a variety of musical genres in their songs, including pop, rock, soul, jazz and hard rock. Having sold over 35 million albums to date, Toto never really went away, but, to me, it feels like in 2015 the band is making a return of sorts with their latest release, Toto XIV. It’s their first new studio album since 2006’s Falling In Between.

Today’s version of Toto includes original members Steve Lukather, David Paich, and Steve Porcaro and original bass player David Hungate. Joseph Williams (singer on “The Seventh One” and “Fahrenheit”) returns to handle lead vocals, while Keith Carlock (Steely Dan, Sting) now sits behind the drumkit.

In 2015, Toto will embark on a massive world tour where they will unveil some songs from their dynamite new album, share some deep tracks from past Toto albums, and perform all the hits their fans have come to love and expect. If you like top-notch arena rock, Toto is the band. –“Is this music 1980s or 2010s?”

Volunteer Jam features videos from country rockers and more

Country, soul and classic rock artists have been part of the “Volunteer Jam” for years. Now the Volunteer Jam YouTube Channel– with videos from years of Volunteer Jam concerts– is packed with music videos of performances from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ted Nugent, The Outlaws, The Marshall Tucker Band, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bill Medley, James Brown, Dobie Gray, Wet Willie, The Allman Brothers Band, and The Charlie Daniels Band, with more to come. Enjoy! –“Charlie Daniels called this artist ‘Yankee’ and ‘son.'”

Atonomic asks Are You Up For It?

Atonomic’s “Are You Up For It” kind of reminds me of the good times in the 1980s, musically-speaking. It’s upbeat, with synthesizers, and I especially like the harmonies. Is it just me or do they kind of sound like an electronic dance music 2015 version of Duran Duran? Find out more about Atonomic on Facebook and Twitter. –“This artist thinks the 1980s were the best time for music.”

Bob Marley’s Could You Be Loved Cover Version

Bob Marley’s song “Could You Be Loved” is an awesome song. Ever since visiting his home in Kingston, Jamaica, and finding out a friend of mine’s dad used to live behind the house and see Bob playing soccer in the yard, I am a fan of Bob Marley. I’m not for his pot smoking, but his music is undeniably special, and the fact that he was the first Third World global music superstar makes him someone worth celebrating. He would have been 70-years-old this year. Anyway, here’s an outstanding cover of Bob Marley’s song, “Could You Be Loved.”

Enjoy! –“This artist didn’t discover Bob Marley until his 30s!”

The driving beat of Cherry Tree by Van Wild

I found myself humming the melody after just one listen of “Cherry Tree” by Van Wild. It’s got a driving beat, and I like how the music video shows a couple collecting money in jars for both music school and med school. Van Wild is actually the name for a rock-pop project from singer-songwriter Yasmine Van Wilt. She’s got both a NYC and London vibe going on and I’d recommend you check her music out at www.musicbyvanwild.com. –“This artist lived in NYC briefly. It didn’t work out.”

The Voice holding auditions in 2015

Years ago I auditioned for The Voice. It was in New York City on a cold winter day, and I sang “Blue Suede Shoes.” I didn’t get asked back, but I didn’t mind. After all, thousands auditioned, and when it comes down to it– can you name a winner of The Voice who has a viable music career with multiple Top 10 hits? I can’t. It’s often been said that the show is more for the judges than the singers and perhaps that’s true. None-the-less, you might want to audition for the show, so I wanted to share with you upcoming audition dates…

For more casting details, go to: NBCTheVoice.com

NEW YORK: January 24 – 25
Javits Convention Center, Hall 1A
655 West 34th Street, New York, NY 10001

LOS ANGELES: January 31 – February 1
Los Angeles Convention Center, South Hall
1201 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015

ATLANTA: February 14 – 15
Atlanta Convention Center at AmericasMart, Bldg. 2
240 Peachtree Street NW #2200, Atlanta, GA 30303

CHICAGO: February 21 – 22
Navy Pier, Grand Ballroom
600 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

–“This artist auditioned for The Voice. He didn’t make it.”

Reggae song Rainbow World makes people feel good

In a world where too many people are at war with one another for whatever reason comes a song called “Rainbow World.” It’s a positive-minded reggae song designed to put you in a good mood by Roland B. Kemokai, an Austin-based Liberian singer/songwriter, composer, pianist, guitarist, and bassist.

“Rainbow World” proclaims that all people of the world, no matter what they look like, are simply beautiful. Kemokai portrays the different skin colors of human beings all around the world as colors of a beautiful human rainbow – a rainbow world. He makes the point that we should embrace and nurture the gifts of our diversity and not allow fear to segregate or destroy our beautiful world.

The production of “Rainbow World” is the result of a remarkable collaboration of talented artists representing many ethnic groups and regions of the world – including Brazil, China, India, Liberia, and the United States. It’s truly a Rainbow World! In the words of Roland Kemokai, “Don’t segregate, simply appreciate.” Buy the song here. –“This artist likes Skittles.”

Man of Steel by Ray William Roldan

Well this one’s interesting– “Man of Steel” is by Ray William Roldan, and it’s from an album entitled In California Country. Indeed, this song is kind of country, but also kind of ‘California with a surf sound,’ mixed with shades of The Beatles, The Band, Gilbert O’Sullivan and a variety of good songs you’ve heard in the past. Yet… it’s wholly original, and doesn’t sound like everything else out there today. It’s a very cool song– I am impressed.

According to the bio on his website, Roldan came from the union of a biker and Hollywood high school beauty and has been around showbiz and music for most of his life. Indeed, he’s working on his fourth album, due in 2016, and acting. I betcha if you spent a couple minutes talking with him in person, he’d be someone you wouldn’t soon forget. And I bet he’s got some great life stories to tell.


Soul is not dead: Soulganic lives

It has been a while since Tony! Toni! Toné! had their minutes in the spotlight, but that doesn’t mean that funky soul music is dead. Enter the group Soulganic– they’re on the scene now, and they bring funk and soul to the forefront with their song “This Gift.” Fans of Smokey Robinson, Raphael Saadiq, Us3, D’Angelo, and Maxwell will appreciate the vocals and the vibe of Soulganic. I know I do! It’s refreshing to hear true musicians with an organic, top-notch approach to their craft instead of just digitally programmed tracks. –“This artist loves soul music.”

Australian songwriter Glen Naylor creates diverse songs

Songwriter Glen Naylor along with Chris Wilson, a talented multi-instrumentalist and producer, create all sorts of songs for the world to hear.

As a writer of Australian children’s music, Naylor also keeps busy writing songs in multiple genres to appeal to all ages. Vocalist Simone Gill lends her pretty vocals to the breezy jazzy-pop song “Where The Willow Weeps,” which you can hear here.

Naylor and Wilson are currently at work on a song about the Anzacs for the centenary of World World I in April. With their diverse musical offerings, it’ll be interesting to hear future releases. –Mark Weber Music Blog

Xavier Toscano will get you dancing with Never Wanna Leave

If you were at a beach club party in Ibiza, I bet you’d dance the night away to “Never Wanna Leave” by Xavier Toscano. It’s that kind of song. Meanwhile, Toscano has a new album, appropriately titled Feels So Good. Get it for FREE here. The San Francisco-based singer makes energetic pop-dance music that’ll get your feet movin’. –“This artist thinks the name Xavier is cool and unusual.”

Rough Times In America

When I saw that Alvin Harrison’s band, The 99, had a song called “Rough Times In America,” I immediately wanted to hear what that was about. Unlike other artists these days, Harrison and The 99 are writing, performing and recording socially relevant songs that talk about what’s going on. Also pay attention to the songs “Do You Wanna Go” and “We Ain’t Buyin.'”

Find The 99 on Facebook here. –“This artist was at Occupy Wall Street.”

Turning you on to new and interesting music makers


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