Movie and music shines a light on disabled dreamers and doers

Have you ever called someone a “retard?” It happens. But words surely can hurt a person. More than 3 million American kids will be bullied this year. They’ll be called “retard,” “fatso,” “fag,” “nigger,” and other words that can leave a lasting sting on their psyche.

Come this May 15th, there’s going to be a movie released called Where Hope Grows, and it chronicles David DeSanctis, a young man with Down’s Syndrome. He’s defying the odds and shattering stereotypes for people living with disabilities, and I’m sure his story can and will cause people to think twice when they encounter someone who stands out from the crowd.

The movie also features others, including a rapper. Thus, the movie incorporates music and shows the world that disabled young people can be both dreamers and doers, like their non-disabled friends.

Here’s a short video to whet your appetite for the film:

That’s Moriah Peters singing “Brave” in the video called “Stand Up For Downs.” –Mark Weber Music Blog

What was the first DISCO hit?

If you think of the 1970s, you inevitably think of disco music as performed by Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, The Village People, The Bee Gees, and, of course, KC & The Sunshine Band– fronted by Harry Casey. Did you know the song that ushered in the disco era was by KC & The Sunshine Band? It was 1974’s “Rock Your Baby.” Hear it here:

Pretty funky jam, right? I’m glad to tell ya KC & The Sunshine Band are still going strong even now, in 2015. I saw them recently, and they put on one helluva great show. If you get a chance to see ‘em live, GO! –Mark Weber Music Blog

Soundtracks from Yash Qaraah

Keeping it funky like Prince, it’s Yash Qaraah with his release, Daddy, available on Google Play. The title track is joined by two other songs, “7” and “I Love U,” available for downloading. Meanwhile, Qaraah’s “soundtracks” are available to download at where you’ll find a diverse group of songs, including film score tracks like “Missing Me” and “Take A Dive,” along with funky joints like “When It’s Over.” –Mark Weber Music Blog

Rick Hall tells the story of the Muscle Shoals sound

Everyone knows the music—from Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally,” to Etta James’ “Tell Mama,” to Aretha Franklin’s “I Ain’t Never Loved A Man,” to Clarence Carter’s “Patches”—but not many know the complicated, volatile and impossibly driven man behind the elusive “Muscle Shoals Sound”– that rare and coveted ‘secret sauce’ that made droves of successful artists, and literally hundreds of gold and platinum records possible.

Meet Rick Hall, the “Father of the Muscle Shoals Sound,” and the unofficial father of the funky, catchy and distinctively Southern vibe of music that helped define a generation. Seemingly from its founding, Hall’s FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals itself—a rural town of 8,000 residents—became an almost mystical breeding ground for transcendent music, inexplicably attracting the biggest names in music history to fly in for creative recording sessions produced and engineered by Rick Hall. In many cases, this launched their careers:

● Pillars like Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett
● Groups like The Osmonds, Alabama and the Allman Brothers
● Pioneers like Mac Davis, Clarence Carter, and Arthur Alexander
● Superstar solo artists like Paul Anka, Liza Minnelli, Tom Jones, Andy Williams, Bobbie Gentry and many more

And now, Heritage Builders is proud to release the official autobiography of Rick Hall, an eye-opening first-hand account of one of music’s most fascinating untold stories, and a telling portrait of the “imperfect perfectionist” who’s forever intertwined into the fabric of music history.

The Man from Muscle Shoals (ISBN: 978-1-941437-52-0; Nonfiction / Memoir; 400 pages; March, 2015) is the compelling memoir of Hall, who came from extreme poverty in rural America, to build one of the most famous recording studios in the world, pioneering a new sound that would inspire artists, give birth to new kinds of music and launch the careers of hundreds of superstars. He wrote, published and produced hundreds of hit records.

With more than 210 hit chart singles credited to his production roster (and 40+ Gold and Platinum records), Rick Hall is indisputably the top producer of successful Pop, Rock, R&B and Country records in the world. Hall’s FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, is internationally renowned for its distinctive, soulful and cutting-edge sound—dubbed the “Muscle Shoals Sound.” And it is the oldest continuous operating studio in the world under the same owner in its original location.

From the moment “You Better Move On” by Arthur Alexander was recorded and released, hit records began coming together in Muscle Shoals at an impossibly rapid rate. And not without controversy: FAME Studios’ fluid and open collaboration among black and white artists was a revolutionary cultural standard not only to “deep south” Alabama, but to the nation at large. FAME’s color blind atmosphere, and the raw music it produced, would help shape American culture during its most troubled and tumultuous time.

Music fans and history buffs alike will be fascinated by the stirring account of Rick Hall’s life and career of music. The book comes with a bonus DVD of the Grammy award-winning documentary, Muscle Shoals, which recounts the powerful story of Muscle Shoals’ unique place in the music world, and of Rick Hall, “The Father of the Muscle Shoals Sound,” who pioneered the raw beats that made it all possible. –Mark Weber Music Blog

Johnny Cash’s sister to release duets album

Gospel music legend Joanne Cash, sister of country music icon Johnny Cash, will release her latest album, Breaking Down the Barriers, on April 1st. The star-studded duets album from Nashville-based indie label Proverbial Excellence will be available in stores and at all digital retailers including iTunes and Amazon, distributed by Elevate Entertainment and Syntax Distribution.

On Breaking Down the Barriers, Joanne teamed up with many of her famous friends for a collection of 14 duets. Fans of the Cash family will be thrilled to find duets with Rosanne Cash and Tommy Cash, in addition to contributions from iconic country artists Larry Gatlin, T. Graham Brown, The Fox Brothers, Razzy Bailey, George Hamilton IV and Riders in the Sky’s Ranger Doug and Christian rockers Kevin Max (dcTalk, Audio Adrenaline), Dan Haseltine (Jars of Clay), Rick Florian (Whiteheart) and John Schlitt (Petra).

Country music fans will take particular interest in two tracks on the new album, due to their historical significance. The lyrics for the Tommy Cash duet, “My Lord Has Gone,” were written by Joanne and Tommy’s brother, Johnny Cash, who passed away before he had the chance to record it. On the song “On The Rock Where Moses Stood,” Joanne duets with legendary country artist George Hamilton IV, in what turned out to be his final recording. Hamilton died unexpectedly in September.

“These sessions, often done in Joanne’s home, pair Joanne with artists from all walks of life and genres,” says producer Chad Randall Crow. “Each of these songs was hand-picked for this inspirational work. Like her brother’s American Recordings sessions, these performances will stand the test of time.”

As the younger sister of Johnny Cash, Joanne Cash has certainly made her way in the music industry. With 30 albums, the 2013 docufilm, Joanne Cash: I Do Believe, her acclaimed autobiography, My Fears Are Gone, and continuous concert appearances, the singer/songwriter is driven by a deeper sense of eternal purpose. Says Joanne, “I’m amazed that at my age I still want to sing, but it’s like therapy for me. Johnny always helped me remember that and he was constantly encouraging. But there was one short phrase from Johnny that’s always stuck with me and it’s one I’ll continue for as long as I’m here, ‘Baby, just keep on singing!’”

Joanne grew up in Dyess, Arkansas, where some of her earliest Cash family memories include singing spiritual standards in the cotton fields and laying on the living room floor listening to gospel and country music – scenes that would eventually be played out in the box office smash, I Walk the Line. Joanne found a musical calling in the 1970s while working at House of Cash, Johnny’s famed recording studio, office space and musical museum. She sang at the Grand Ole Opry from 1972-1976 with Jimmy Rodgers Snow’s Grand Ole Gospel Time. During that era, Joanne met her husband Dr. Harry Yates, and the couple soon dedicated themselves to full time music ministry, traveling the country for fifteen years of full time preaching and singing the gospel. When they came off the road in 1990, the couple founded Nashville Cowboy Church, where Joanne continues to sing every Sunday. In addition, Joanne continues to tour worldwide, and hosts a Tuesday night residency at the Wyndham Vacation Resort in Nashville, where she shares a variety of original and gospel/country covers, plus tidbits of the Cash family testimony. –Mark Weber Music Blog

Human Behavior makes hauntingly interesting music

Human Behavior is described as “a dark freak-folk group from Arizona.” Their second album in a trilogy is called Bethphage and it sounds like Tom Petty and Lorde got together and had a music love child.

Thematically, Bethphage is divided into chapters (each song is a chapter) encompassing Catholic guilt, drug addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder, and ethnic identity confusion. The chapters/songs demand you listen closely to the lyrics to take it all in– if you’ve got the lights turned down low and you want a trippy experience, this music will mesmerize you.

Human Behavior has opened for folks like Xiu Xiu, Waxahatchee, Andrew Jackson Jihad, and Emperor X. If you’re wondering what their hauntingly interesting music sounds like, click here. –Mark Weber Music Blog

Technology rap from Derriziel Pierce

What if there was a music artist who did “technology rap” about things like online lovers? There is! His name is Derriziel Pierce and you can hear songs of his, like “Clicking For Romance” and “App For That,” at

Pierce has two albums out:
(1) Information Technology: Interconnected – Pushes education in the technology field.
(2) Cyber Psychology: Point & Click – Puts an emphasis on the technology lifestyle: looking for love online, using an app for anything, who can afford the internet, and embracing your inner nerd…

With over 20 years in the IT industry and the hip hop industry, Pierce uses music to help mentor the next generation of IT workers. I think he’s very clever and I dig his sound. –Mark Weber Music Blog

Xeno Devale presents the Ex-Files App combining songs and more for a unique experience

Xeno Devale’s Ex-Files app is an investigation through the eyes of a woman deciding if the man she has chosen is worth her time. Xeno Devale pleads his case by revealing his past relationships to her through music, film, games, and literature. Follow her to help discover who he really is and decide for yourself– it’s at the Apple App Store here and it’s on Google Play, too.

–Mark Weber Music Blog

I’m a musician and I will NOT work for free

I am an advocate for paying performers, musicians, singers, etc. for their time, talent and commitment to perform when the gig/venue is a for-profit, money-making entity. Providing live music is a valuable service and deserves financial compensation when those around the musicians, from vendors to security, are getting paid/making money.

Sadly, there are too many people today who just assume that they can ask their friend to have his or her band play their event “for exposure.” That’s just a nice way of asking you to work for free. These gigs typically involve a lot of work, from practicing songs beforehand to loading up a truck full of gear to bring to the venue, which then needs to be set-up, tested and used for the performance. And these days a lot of places want a band to play for a THREE or FOUR hour period. “For exposure.”

What really irks me is when someone says, “There’s no money in the budget to pay the band.” But there’s money to pay the local newspaper $600 for an advertisement? And there’s money to pay the security guard, bartender, waiter/waitress, cleaning attendant, sound tech, and/or vendors?

If you do take a gig “for exposure,” oftentimes it goes like this: you get the honor of performing outdoors in hot-and-humid weather for a crowd that’s barely paying attention to you. You put your time, energy and effort into “bringing it” and 5 out of 50 people are listening to your music. The rest are chatting away, drinking heavily, etc. People all around you are “on the clock” and will get tips and/or a paycheck when you’re done, and you? You MIGHT get offered a bottle of water or–gasp–a free soda or beer! Typically, though, the venue manager barely notices you’re there and you’re pretty much left to your own devices. Sadly, you’re lucky when you get a spoken “thank you” after your gig from whomever’s “on duty” at the time, assigned to watch you in between their checking their smartphones and wandering away to their office for most of your set(s).

No matter what I write here, there’s going to be singers and bands who play gigs for free and so I’m probably saying stuff that falls on deaf ears. However, for those paying attention, heed my advice: don’t work/play music for free for a for-profit entity. Performing live music is not a charity. It’s a service which draws a crowd and makes a place more lively, exciting and interesting. Know your worth. Take jobs that pay well and avoid the rest if you know what’s good for you! –Mark Weber

DJ Chris Marina’s dance club music mix

Just one listen to DJ Chris Marina’s ++ soul2deep house | mixtape 1510 ++ and I feel like I’ve been transported to a cool European dance club where the people are beautiful and the dance floor is alive. I especially like the use of percussion and bass.

Take a listen:

++ soul2deep house | mixtape 1510 ++ by Dj Chris Marina on Mixcloud

–Mark Weber Music Blog

Guitar fans will love Flav Martin

With a bluesy, Americana vibe, guitar player-singer-songwriter Flav Martin’s music represents years of preparation to make a phenomenal album of intricately-played, well-crafted songs. Fans of acoustic guitar will especially dig “Colors,” “Laura’s Theme,” and “Soul Redemption.”

See Martin’s adept guitar playing here:

Flav Martin’s new release, Indestructible, is available now on and Find out more about him at his website, –Mark Weber Music Blog

Angel on the Loose from Kayla Jay

Remember in the year 2000 when P!nk burst on the scene with “Most Girls?” It was dynamic R&B and her voice was distinct. Kayla Jay reminds me of P!nk with her song “Angel on the Loose,” from the release Sleeping With The Enemy. Hailing from New Jersey, Kayla Jay got her start singing in a choir, followed by studying music theory and audio engineering. What I especially appreciate about her is that she writes and her produces her own material. She’s one to watch. –Mark Weber Music Blog

Lady Gaga reminds the world how many hit songs came out of The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music (the movie) is 50-years-old now, but it shows no signs of slowing down. Still popular after all these years, it’s perhaps because of its many sing-a-long songs like “So Long Farewell,” “Climb Every Mountain,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Sixteen Going On Seventeen,” “My Favorite Things” and “Edelweiss.” Just recently, Lady Gaga sang a tribute to the musical and original singer Julie Andrews appeared impressed! Nice. So, if you’ve never seen or heard The Sound of Music, you should– it’s one of the most popular, enduring musicals of all time. –Mark Weber Music Blog

See Jimmy Fallon and Kelly Clarkson Duet

Jimmy Fallon is quite the talent– singing duets with Kelly Clarkson, including snippets of the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me,” Charles & Inez Foxx’s “Mockingbird,” Elton John and Kiki Dee’s “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart,” Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt’s “Don’t Know Much,” Jennifer Warnes and Joe Cocker’s “Up Where We Belong” and even Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat’s “Opposites Attract.” Clarkson is refreshingly down-to-earth and Fallon has such childlike enthusiasm that you can’t help but enjoy this unique take on musical duets throughout the years. –Mark Weber Music Blog

Turning you on to new and interesting music makers


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