Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Song:Way Back Home
Album:Live At Voce
Drummer Steve Gadd has played on hundreds of sessions for a who's who of the music business. But occasionally he has recorded as a leader. This 2009 CD is his most recent recording. He was born Apr. 9, 1945 in Irondequoit, NY which is a suburb of Rochester. His uncle was a drummer in the US Army and encouraged Gadd to take lessons. At age 11 he sat in with Dizzy Gillespie. Gadd says his influences are Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams and Rick Marotta. He studied at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester and by the late 60s he was working with Rochester native Chuck Mangione and his brother Gap. Gadd spent three years in the US Army music program. He moved to New York in the early 70s and has made his living as a session musician. In the 70s, he was a member of Stuff with Richard Tee, Eric Gale and Cornell Dupree and he toured with Paul Simon. In the 80s he toured with Al DiMeola and in the late 80s, Gadd recorded as a leader for the first time. The Gadd Gang featured Ronnie Cuber, Cornell Dupree, Richard Tee and Eddie Gomez. They recorded Way Back Home in 1989 which was written by Wilton Felder and first recorded by The Crusaders. In the 90s, Gadd toured and recorded with Eric Clapton and continues to work with him today. Live At Voce was released in 2009 and features Ronnie Cuber on baritone sax, Paul Bollenback on guitar and Joey DeFrancesco on organ. Edie Brickell appears on two tracks. It's available as a budget CD. Most recently he played on Kate Bush's 2011 comeback CD 50 Words for Snow and later this year he will release the CD Gadditude featuring pianist Larry Goldings. Steve Gadd is the legend you have probably never heard of. Here's Steve Gadd and The Gadd Gang performing Way Back Home at The Bottom Line in New York City 1989.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Song:Let Her Cry
Album:The Best Of Hootie & The Blowfish: 1993 Thru 2003
Hootie & The Blowfish became overnight sensations with their 1994 debut CD Cracked Rear View and three top ten hit singles including Let Her Cry. Of course it's always hard to follow up on a successful debut so they faded fairly quickly. Hootie & The Blowfish were formed in 1986 at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Lead guitarist Mark Bryan heard Darius Rucker singing in the shower of their dorm and decided to work with him. At first they played local clubs as the Wolf Brothers. Bassist Dean Felber went to high school with Bryan and the band was completed when drummer Jim Sonefeld joined. The band name is a reference to Rucker's childhood friends who resembled an owl and a blowfish. Rucker got tired of people calling him Hootie. But that's what happens when the name of your band is confusing. They recorded demos and released an EP in 1993. And this led to a contract with Atlantic Records with producer Don Gehman who is best known for his work with John Mellencamp. There were three top ten singles from the album. Hold My Hand reached #10, Let Her Cry reached #9 and Only Wanna Be With You reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Cracked Rear View topped the Billboard Hot 200 and was certified 6XPlatinum. It was the biggest selling CD of 1995. Hootie & The Blowfish won the 1996 Best New Artist Grammy. That was going to be a tough act to follow. And the 1996 CD Fairweather Johnson did not do nearly as well but it was still certified 3XPlatinum. This pattern continued with the 1998 CD Musical Chairs. You can get all their hits on this budget comp including their cover of 54-40's I Go Blind which was on the soundtrack of the TV series Friends. Hootie & The Blowfish left Atlantic in 2003. After recording one album for Vanguard, the group split up in 2008. Darius Rucker signed with Capitol and has a successful country music career. Bryan and Sonefeld have recorded solo CDs and the band still reunites for charity gigs. But for a brief time, Hootie & The Blowfish were the hottest band in America. Here's the video for Let Her Cry by Hootie & The Blowfish.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Song:I Still Call Australia Home
Album:The Boy From Oz: A Decca Broadway Original Cast Album
Though Hugh Jackman is best known as Wolverine in the X-Men films, he has always done musical theater and he won a Tony award for his performance in the 2003 show The Boy From Oz. I Still Call Australia Home is a big patriotic song. He was born Oct. 12, 1968 in Sydney, Australia. He started performing in school but didn't consider acting as a possible career until he graduated from college. His big break was in the 1995 TV series Correlli. The show didn't last long but he married his co-star Deborah Lee-Furness. Then he appeared in Australian productions of musicals like Beauty and the Beast and Sunset Boulevard. In 1998, he starred in the London production of Oklahoma! and was nominated for an Olivier award. He also starred in the film version of Oklahoma!. Then Jackman was cast as Wolverine in the X-Men. The film was huge and Jackman became a star. But Jackman has always returned to the stage. The Boy From Oz is a musical based on the life of Aussie singer songwriter Peter Allen. Allen is a legend in Australia but he was never a star here. He has had a lot of success as a record producer and songwriter. The Boy From Oz was a big hit when it ran in Australia in 1998. When it was brought to Broadway in 2003, they needed a big star for the lead and they signed Jackman. It was a hit and Jackman won a Tony award. The Boy From Oz ran for a year. Peter Allen wrote and recorded I Still Call Australia Home in 1980. The song became popular in Australia when it was used in a Qantas commercial and it's now a patriotic standard. Though Jackman is very busy in films, he still returns to the stage occasionally in things like his one man show Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway. I'm sure if he gets the opportunity, he will return to musical theater in the future. He seems to really enjoy it. Here's Hugh Jackman with Olivia Newton-John, Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe performing I Still Call Australia Home on an Oprah Winfrey Australia special. Yes, Oprah is annoying but the clip gives an idea about how Aussies feel about this song.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Here's the match video from today's PANCRASE show with Queen of PANCRASE Rin Nakai facing King of the Cage champ Brenda Gonzalez. As someone said the other day, remember when King of the Cage meant something. It is typical of Japanese promotions to bring over gaijin fighters to lose to their ace. They announce it to the Japanese media. "Look, we brought over a fighter from America." But those of us who have covered the Japanese business for a long time know how they work. It's not new. There have been occasional upsets but not usually. Brenda Gonzalez clearly doesn't have the experience to handle a fighter of Rin's caliber. Obviously Brenda knew she was the underdog because at the open workout the other day she said "I didn't come here to lose." But she was brought to Japan to lose. PANCRASE should bring over better opposition...but they won't. Several fans have asked me about the winged costume Rin wore to the ring. It's a promotion PANCRASE is doing for a video game. I also read that PANCRASE has a Rin Nakai mobile app in the works. So at the start of the fight the two fighters are circling around not doing anything. Remember there isn't much footage of Brenda out there. Rin knows Brenda is a boxer but she couldn't watch her fights. I can understand her caution. Both fighters were waiting for the other to make the first move. The ref got tired of this and admonished both fighters for not doing anything. Brenda finally made the first move with a wild spinning back fist. This was the opening Rin was looking for and it was pretty much over after that. A violent takedown followed. It looks like Brenda broke her arm. Then Rin went for the rear naked choke and it's over. It's doubtful that Brenda would have been able to come out for the second round. Fighting someone like Rin Nakai with one arm is not a good idea. Rin did her trademark "air dancing" after her win. Fans have asked me about that. Rin was a competitive gymnast as a child. So now we can all look forward to more goofy weekly Rin Nakai videos on Youtube. Enjoy the video!
Song:Under The Sea
Album:Disney's The Little Mermaid: Original Broadway Cast Recording
Disney has adapted several hit films for the Broadway stage. They first did this in 1994 with Beauty and the Beast. They continue to do this because the shows have been very successful. The Little Mermaid premiered on Broadway in 2008. The 1989 film was very popular and Under The Sea even won a Best Original Song Oscar. The problem with turning The Little Mermaid into a musical was the same that they had with Beauty and the Beast. It didn't have a lot of songs so it needed more songs to be a musical. The film's songs were written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Disney contacted Menken about writing new songs for the musical. But Ashman died in 1991. So Menken brought in Glenn Slater. The two had worked together on Sister Act The Musical. The show premiered Jan. 10, 2008 and closed on Aug. 30, 2009. That's a pretty good run and regional productions are very popular worldwide. The stars of the Broadway production included Sierra Boggess, Sean Palmer and Sherie Rene Scott. Tituss Burgess played Sebastian the Crab and sang the popular song Under The Sea. Burgess is from Athens, GA and he made his Broadway debut in the 2005 show Good Vibrations which is about The Beach Boys. He also appeared in Jersey Boys and the 2009 revival of Guys and Dolls. Sebastian is his best known role and the Broadway cast album of The Little Mermaid is available on CD. Burgess had a recurring role on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. He is currently promoting his new self released CD Comfortable. Here's Tituss Burgess performing Under The Sea on Good Morning America Jan. 10, 2008.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Don't let his name fool you. Singer songwriter Jose Gonzalez is from Sweden. He has had success in England and you may have heard his music on TV. He is very similar to Elliott Smith or Mark Kozelek of Red House Painters. Currently Gonzalez is a member of Junip and is not active as a solo artist. His parents moved from Argentina to Sweden after the 1976 Dirty War. His father is a psychology professor. Gonzalez was born in Gothenberg, Sweden in 1978. He grew up listening to Latin music and his favourite artist is Cuban singer Silvio Rodriguez. As a teen, he played in punk bands like Back Against The Wall, Renascence and Only If You Call Me Jonathan. While studying biochemistry at the University of Gothenberg, he started playing clubs as a solo act and released a single in 2003. This got him a deal with the Swedish label Imperial Records. His 2003 debut CD Veneer got enough attention that Gonzalez signed with the British label Mute Records for wider distribution. The album did very well in England and Sweden. The album is just Gonzalez and his guitar. And as I said, his sound is very similar to Elliott Smith or Mark Kozelek. He had a top ten single in England with his 2006 cover of The Knife song Heartbeats. In the US, his songs have appeared on TV shows like The O.C. and Friday Night Lights. Gonzalez recorded a second CD In Our Nature in 2007. In 2005, he formed Junip with drummer Elias Araya and keyboard player Tobias Winterkorn. For a few years Gonzalez was performing solo and as part of Junip. But on his website, Gonzalez says he is not a solo artist right now. Junip released a new CD Junip last month. They are currently on tour. It seems like he prefers being in a band. Either way, Jose Gonzalez is recommended to folk music fans. Here's Jose Gonzalez performing Slow Moves at radio station KCRW in Los Angeles.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Album:70s Music Explosion: Magic
Bob Welch is known for his days as a member of the early 70s edition of Fleetwood Mac. Sentimental Lady was a top ten hit in 1976 and is considered to be his signature song. He had mixed success otherwise and he died tragically. He was born Aug. 31, 1945 in Los Angeles and grew up in a showbiz family. His father Robert L. Welch was a producer at Paramount Pictures and his mother Templeton Fox was an actress. Welch got interested in music as a teen and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and then at UCLA. Welch said he mostly smoked weed in Paris. In the 60s, Welch was a member of the unsuccessful group The Seven Souls. When they split up in 1969, Bobby Watson and Tony Maiden formed Rufus. Welch moved to Paris and formed the unsuccessful band Head West. In 1971, he was invited to join Fleetwood Mac after Peter Green left. Christine McVie joined at the same time. Welch became a bigger part of the band after Danny Kirwin left in 1972. Sentimental Lady was on the 1972 Fleetwood Mac album Bare Trees. When Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac in 1974, Welch left though he was asked to stay. Welch formed Paris with recording engineer Jimmy Robinson and former Jethro Tull bassist Glenn Cornick. They recorded two unsuccessful albums. Welch was going to record a third Paris album. But it turned into his first solo album French Kiss. Sentimental Lady reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1976. French Kiss was certified Platinum. Subsequent albums did not do as well. And in the early 80s, Welch was addicted to cocaine. There is a Best Of Bob Welch on Rhino but it's expensive. Beware of CDs with rerecorded versions of Sentimental Lady. This Time Life 2CD various artists comp will suit most fans. Bob Welch recorded occasionally over the years. He sued Fleetwood Mac over royalties in 1994. It was settled out of court. As a result, when Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, Welch was not invited to attend. Later he would reconcile with John McVie. Bob Welch had spinal surgery in 2012. When he was told that he would be an invalid, he committed suicide by gunshot on June 7, 2012 at age 66. Here's the video for Sentimental Lady by Bob Welch.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Album:What I Want To Be Remembered For
Country singer Paul Brandt is very successful in his native Canada. He had his biggest international success with I Do in 1996. This is a big wedding song. He was born Paul Rennee Belobersycky July 21, 1972 in Calgary, AB and grew up in the suburb of Airdrie. Brandt's musical influences are neo traditionalists like Dwight Yoakam and George Strait. He grew up singing in church. While entering local talent contests, Brandt worked as a nurse at Alberta Children's Hospital. His big break came when he won a national talent contest sponsored by publishing clearance house SOCAN, the Canadian version of ASCAP. Warner Bros. in Canada sent his demo to Warner Bros. Nashville and Brandt signed a record deal with the Warner label Reprise. They brought him to Nashville to work with producer Josh Leo who has worked with Alabama and Kathy Mattea. Brandt's 1996 debut single My Heart Has A History reached #5 on the Country Singles chart. I Do did even better and reached #2. And it's a popular wedding song. The album Calm Before The Storm was certified Gold. Subsequent albums and singles didn't do as well and he left Reprise after recording three albums. This comp was released only in Canada. Brandt started his own label Brand-T Records with distribution in Canada from Universal. His latest CD Just As I Am was released Oct. 2012. It's a gospel CD. He continues to tour in Canada. So he's doing OK and I'm sure I Do generates plenty of royalties. Here's the video for I Do by Paul Brandt.