Friday, December 23, 2011

The Pirate Charles

*looks around guiltily* Okay, how about we pretend that I haven't been slacking for a couple of weeks and instead have posted some really good music, so I don't have to make up some lame excuse for not posting.  No?  Yeah, okay, I've been bad.  I'll try to do better.

So, for the real post.  Last week our friend Rock gave us an album because he knows about our love of pirate music.  The album is Conquer and the band is The Pirate Charles (warning: the page autoloads music, and I find no way to turn it off).  Now, this is not a Renaissance pirate group, like so much of my pirate music.  These guys are rock musicians.  They do have a mandolin, a couple of fiddles and a very Ian Andersonesque flutist, but they also have some good heavy guitars and drums.  The music is mostly about drinking, wenching and thievery on the high seas.  I dig them.  The appear to be from somewhere in the Northwest going by their schedule, so I'm hoping to catch them sometime if I go up to see my brother in Oregon.

Vocally, none of them have overwhelmingly awesome voices.  They sing a bit rough, which is totally acceptable for both the music genre and the theme of the group.  Now, they do harmonize very well and I think y'all are aware of my love of good harmonies.  Musically, they are very tight.  On the album, there is a good balance between the acoustic instruments and the electric instruments.  The sound on the live performances on their videos isn't very good, but it seems that they balance fairly well on stage as well.

My favorite song?  The Star Spangled Banner.  No, really.  You know how they told you in music class that Key only wrote the lyrics, the music was from an old drinking song?  And do you remember - like I do - thinking "No way are a bunch of drunks going to be able to sing this music."?  Well, TPC convinced me.  This is the Star Spangled Banner as sung by a bunch of drunk, but very patriotic lads down at the local pub.  I in no way shape or form find this in the least bit insulting.  In fact, I was very sorry that I couldn't find a YouTube video so I could share the love.

So, I'll share this one instead.  It gives you a good idea of both their harmonies and their ability to rock.  Unfortunately, the sound isn't the greatest once the guitars kick in, but its good enough that you get the idea.  And no, the lead singer isn't playing a tambourine.  He's playing his flogger.  It's THAT kind of fun. :)

They've a bunch more videos on YouTube than they do on their website.  I suggest you go have some piratical fun.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Guilty Pleasure

*looks around cautiously*

Don't tell anyone, but....I kinda dig this video

No, I'm not a Belieber or anything.  However, I'm also not a jealous adult who will give him shit for being famous.  All that fuss about his hair?  Dude, he had the same haircut that John Lennon had when the Beatles started out!  Talentless?  No, not really.  He can actually carry a tune pretty well (although there is a touch of Autotune in this song, I'm thinking it's more b) moo than lack of talent).  He's not what I'm going to regularly listen to, but I'm also not about to fuss over a reasonably clean cut kid who is an appropriately aged teen idol.  Not my generation - not my place to dis.

But the video - Steampunk and awesome breakdancing.  Hell, I might even give Ke$ha brownie points for doing that!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Slow music week...

I haven't run into any new music this week.  Granted, I haven't been looking for it, but I usually have at least one friend post or email a cool video every few days.  So, if anyone is actually reading this thing, I kindly request you post a video or music link to your favorite obscure artist's favorite obscure song.  Because I could use another artist that I now desperately need to buy all the music they've ever created including the crappy first album that they recorded in their parents' garage. :)

On another note (ha! see what I did there?) I finally broke down and bought Ukulele for Dummies and it came in this week.  I've been doing pretty well figuring out a large chunk of the chords on my own, but bar chords are kicking my butt.  I figured it was time for a little help.  They guy who wrote it - Alistair Wood - is British and right off the bat I found out something that I didn't know before.  We Americans use completely different names for the notes than the British do.  I would expect this means that any English speaking European uses different names, seeing as they get their English lessons from the source.  So, for those like me who didn't know, but want to (the rest of you can just skip) here's the run down.

We say whole, half, quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes.

They say semibreve, minim, crotchet, quaver and semiquaver notes.

He states in the introduction that he's going to use the American notes because they make more sense.  Which I'm rather glad of, because I don't know that I could wrap my set-in-its-ways brain around the other system.

Okay, to kick off (hopefully) some music sharing here is Plink Floyd, banjo virtuoso (no, that's not a typo) playing with Steamboat Willie:

And one more with Steamboat Willie himself singing:

Friday, November 25, 2011

It is time.

Okay, I've mentioned before that I'm not Christian, but I still enjoy the holiday season.  However, I've got a love/hate relationship with the music.  At the beginning of the season I really like it.  By Christmas day I'm so tired of it that I never want to hear it again.  I've 178 end of the year seasonal songs on my iTunes (and I state it that way because while most are Christmas songs, I've got a handful of Hanukkah and Yule songs as well).  The day after Thanksgiving is the day they are allowed to go onto the iPod where I might hear them regularly.  The day after Thanksgiving is also the day I stop scowling at everyone who has already started the season, either by music, decorations, or sales. 

And even though it's definitely a religious song, this is probably my absolute favorite seasonal song. 
And this arrangement is probably the best I've heard it done.  When I was singing as a professional caroler (Victorian caroler, mind, so I was singing in a corset.  I'm that badass.) one of our tenors learned David Bowie's part, so, I've actually sung something very close to this.

And with that, it's officially the {insert your preferred end of the year celebration} season in my house.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fun, Fun, Fun

I've found that sometimes it's easier to pick up a song on the ukulele, if I silently run through the chords while listening to the song.  It's much easier to do this if I have the music on my iPod rather than haul my uke and music stand to the office to listen to them on Pandora or YouTube.  So, I'm buying the music when I think about it.  To that end, today I picked up the Beach Boys Greatest Hits.  I've found several songs of theirs with chords that I already know.  However, I've found that since it's been years (in some cases decades) since I've heard some of these songs, I definitely needed a refresher course.

I'm really enjoying listening to this music.  You can babble about nostalgia or looking back on a time of greater innocence of you like, but when you get right down to it, Beach Boy music is Fun.  I mean, really - bouncy music with tight harmonies, what's not to love?  And I'm not buying the innocence bullshit, either.  They may have been more subtle in what they were singing about, but I'm saying he wasn't wanting Rhonda to hold his hand in order to forget the girl that dumped him.  Or not dating so he doesn't leave hist best girl home on a Saturday night while he goes out in his hotrod and picks up chicks.   Because, you know, he's just going to drive them up and down the drag and then let them out of the car.  Yeah.

I do have to wonder if at any point in their career, they ever decided that they were too old to sing "Be True to Your School". 

I totally dig the car in the picture.  Yes, I wanted Archie's jalopy, too.

Yes, it's a tad misogynistic, but not enough to ruin the song.  And yes, he's an ass, but I did like David Lee Roth's version.

And then there is this one,which I know totally lends itself to ukulele, because The Corsairs did it with ukulele.  I was glad to hear they still had talent, but seriously wish that they'd followed up with more new stuff.  Oh, well.

I think I'll let it go with that.  After all, this music isn't going to just listen to itself, you know.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I'm slacking, I know.

I apologize for the radio silence, but I've not had a lot musical happening lately (unless you want to hear me bitch about trying to teach my fingers to do the B and Bb chords on my uke). 

I did buy a couple of good albums this last weekend - The Old 97's, The Grand Theatre Vol. 2 and Bowling for Soup, Sorry for the Partyin'

I first heard of the Old 97's when my friend Catt posted some music.  It was a very good song, but I never pursued finding more of their music.  Fast forward a few years and KXT starts playing them a lot.  And I really liked them a lot.  So, when we went to Best Buy this weekend and I saw their 2 albums on sale, I snagged one.  I picked the second album for their song "Perfume" which a a perky song about losing the girl.  I'm into perky dysfunctional love songs.

I first became aware of Bowling for Soup when The Edge (another D/FW radio station) started playing their "Girl All the Bad Guys Want".  (The one that got them the Grammy nomination).  I liked the song, but never got out to buy the album.  The next album, however, contained a song that hit in my 80s spot.  That would be, of course, "1985".  The Duran Duran reference clinched me having to get this album.  Turned out the whole thing was great.  Have picked up more of their music here and there, but do not have their whole collection by any means.  And I'm thinking I should change that - at least with the albums that came out in 2002 and later (some of their oldest stuff is...less than pleasing.  If you don't believe me, go listen to "Kool-Aid" from their second album).  Sorry for the Partyin' has their only dance song (which is hysterical), some of their standard dysfunctional love songs (did I mention I'm into those?), a song that puts the "b" back in subtle and a love song to Beer.  It's great.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Now THAT'S cruel

I'm on Live Journal and today's Writer's Block questions was "If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?"

That is some horribly mucked up thinking, not to mention cruel.  ONE song?  Can't be done.  Even if I was only presented with one song, my brain would eventually be warping it into thousands.  Not full fledged "professional" music, by any means, but my brain does tend to mess with the songs that get stuck in my head.

First and most obvious, if I get a song in my head that Weird Al Yankovic has gotten hold of, you can guaran-damn-tee that the lyrics will eventually be waffling back and forth from the original to the parody. 

Second and not so obvious is my own brain's tendency to mess with lyrics.  Especially if I only know part of them.  I hate it when I've got a song in my head that I only know the chorus to.  I'll either just have the chorus on endless loop or I'll find myself trying to come up with lyrics that scan and match the intent.  The latter is not a good thing when I'm driving.  Fortunately, I've got a working radio/cd player in the car to keep that from happening.

And lastly is my brain's tendency to do mash-ups if I'm stuck with an internal song for too long.  I've even got a couple that would probably work really well, if I had the talent and tools to muck about in mash-up land.  (I still say that "Rubber Ducky" and "Notorious" would work.  Trust me, I'm a MBLF.)

I did answer the question, by the way.  "I Wanna Be Sedated" by The Ramones.  Because, you see, this is the reset song that I use.  If I've got something stuck in my head, I can start singing this and it will go away.  And then I can easily replace this with any song that I so choose.  It's always nice to have a reset song.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Time for a rant!

Yes, we know I have my hangups and I'm going to bring out one of my big ones.

The vocorder is a legitimate musical tool that has been badly abused of late.

Most of you know this tool by the brand name Autotune.  There have been many before, the first being created in the 1930s as a way to encode speech for transmission.  The music biz grabbed it at some point (I'm sure if I'd finish reading the Wikipedia article, I could give you a date, but I've had a martini - hence the rant mode - and don't have the patience at the moment.) and turned it into a way to play with vocal effects.

I don't have a problem with that.

Quite a number of musical groups have used the vocorder to add spice to their music.  The Electric Light Orchestra is probably the first I heard use it and they did a lovely job of touching up their singing with a bit of synthetic voice effects.  Several groups have used the vocorder when they wanted to imply computers or robots talking (Styx and some of the music from the movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band come to mind - don't judge).  So, for years I didn't have any problem with this particular tool.

Come the mid to late '00s and I have a totally different take on the tool.  (I pronounce it "naughties" by the way.  As in using "naught" for zero.  Since we haven't come up with a universal way of saying "after the nineties but before the teens" I think I can pick and choose my euphemisms here.)  Because somewhere along the way it either a) became such a cool effect that everyone wanted to use it or b) was being used by every producer alive because to not follow the herd would be unheard of (no pun intended).  I strongly suspect the answer is b) moo.  Which is yet another reason I don't listen to pop music on a regular basis.

Now here's the dilemma - there is a lot of pop music that I find fun and danceable and that I like musically.  But if I have no idea what the lead singer sounds like without the damned Autotune, I have a hard time liking the song over all.  Because I want to know that you earned that record contract by having a voice that is worthy before you pump out crap on Autotune.  Owl City has a song "Fireflies" that I would totally love, if I knew they could sing without Autotune.  Ke$ha has a couple of songs that I'd totally dance to, if I knew she could sing.  I know Will.I.Am has a decent voice, but you wouldn't know it if you picked up Black Eyed Peas "The E.N.D." (which I like in a guilty sort of way).  At one point Brittany Spears had a decent voice, but apparently she won't sing in public anymore without the Autotune.  And - especially disappointing seeing as I loved her quirky voice on the first album - even Katy Perry has succumbed to the "follow the herd or be cast out of radio play" and added Autotuned stuff to her newest album (although, not to the extent of some of the earlier examples).

So, here's my opinion on vocorder done right:

A good example of using it as icing to the song.  Keep in mind this was recorded back in the '70s when big fuck-off perms and shirts open to the navel were cool.  Really.  I'm not making that up.
In this case, the vocorder is used to represent the robots.  I promise the song makes a lot more sense if you listen to the whole album in order.  It was meant to be a rock opera.

I could give you more, but I'll leave it at that.  (Besides, I couldn't find the songs from Sgt. Pepper's that I wanted to inflict...uh...share with you.) 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Life is a Song Cue

Seriously, there's hardly a conversation that goes by which doesn't set off at least one song in my head, either from the subject or some line that was spoken.  Sometimes a line will set off a song that is TOTALLY inappropriate for the conversation.  These are usually kept to myself.  I normally won't spout off a song out loud at work either - they think I'm weird enough.  Around friends, however, I'm always singing a line or two.  And it's probably a good thing that I'm always coming up with new songs from conversation, because otherwise I get songs stuck in my head.  One of the signs that my husband and I are still a good match is that he does the same thing.  We often break out in the same song during conversation.  Fortunately, our friends take this a normal now.

And since that's a really short post after a whole week with nothing, I'll give you a song to get stuck in your head.  This is what I woke up to on my internal juke box today.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sweet Emotion

Being a MBLF, I often respond very emotionally to songs.  Sometimes it's the lyrics and sometimes it's the music itself, but there are a few that are going to get me every time. 

"The Hallelujah Chorus" - it's the musicality of this one.  Especially if I'm singing it (alto part).  The way this song is put together seriously energizes me.  I'm not Christian, but I can still feel all the hope and joy that the resurrection of Christ meant for Handel.

"Leader of the Band" by Dan Fogelberg - It doesn't matter how many times I hear this song, it makes me tear up.  Just thinking about it right now is affecting my tear ducts.  I guess it's all the love and respect tied up into this song that does it.

"I Will Posses Your Heart" by Death Cab for Cutie - This song totally creeps me out.  I think it's the mix of really good music with the scary stalker lyrics.  I cannot listen to this song and will change the radio every time it comes on.  I'm sure this is not the reaction they were hoping for, but that's where it hits me.  Which is a pity, because I really like the other music I've heard out of them.

"God is a DJ" by Pink - this is one of quite a number of songs that make me want to dance.  And I will, every time I hear it.  Even if I'm in a public place where dancing isn't acceptable, I'll at the very least start moving my hips.  I am definitely the iPod commercial with this one.

And then there is this song.  It makes me energized, want to dance, and cry all at the same time.  I think the latter is Drew Barrymore's fault*, because I'm definitely not a baseball fan.

*Fever Pitch.  A movie about a relationship between a girl, a guy and the baseball team he loves.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Got ya covered!

I happen to like musical covers.  I like hearing a familiar song interpreted anew.  Granted, there are some crap covers out there, but there is a lot of good music being well reworked by good musicians.  Now, one of my personal quirks is I like odd covers.  The ones that make you stop and go "why is that riff familiar?" just before the chorus kicks in and you realize that it's because the riff IS familiar, just not normally played on an accordion.  Or strings.  Or sung to that tempo.  For example (note - most of the examples aren't actual videos because I'm grabbing deep cuts here):

This is a good cover:

It is well done.  You recognize that it's a Doors song.  Duran Duran is true to the original.

However - to me - this is a GREAT cover:

It is well done.  You recognize that it's a Doors song.  Brave Combo takes the song and twists it to their own weird and wonderful style. 

So, allow me to present to you several more pieces that I feel fall into the Great catagory:

Hopefully you enjoyed this.  I get brownie points if I hurt anyone's brain.  :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Those Pesky Lyrics!

I've a weird thing with lyrics.  Being a MBLF I don't always care about the words.  If it's a good groove, then I may have to listen to a song several times before I realize what the lyrics are about.  That being said, I also have a hangup that runs - if you're going to take the trouble to write lyrics, then by golly ENUNCIATE so I can hear what you're saying.  Like I said, it's weird.  And if you want me to hear a song because you totally dig the lyrics, please try to give it to me in a format other than YouTube.  I love watching videos, mind, but I'll be distracted by the story being told in the pictures and not necessarily pick up the story being told in the lyrics (which often are two entirely different stories). 

So, because I don't care about lyrics, I've got a lot of foriegn music on my iPod.  I can't speak anything except English (although I can often suss out some Spanish when I read it), so most of these songs I have no idea what they are about.  But if I like the sound, I don't care.  I've got at least 8 languages on my iPod other than English.  I also have a a ton of instrumental music ranging from classical to heavy metal (and some heavy metal played on classical instruments.  Thank you Apocalyptica).  I'm a big opera fan as well and as long as I know the general story line, I'm fine if there isn't supertitles to get me through the show. 

Now, because I care about lyrics I tend to get techy with folks who have mush mouth.  The Frey comes to mind.  After looking up the lyrics on a couple of songs, I can say they have a good lyricist.  However, I can't understand him (especially if I'm in the car with road noise) enough to know what the heck he's saying when he's singing.  I totally dig the sounds of Red Hot Chili Peppers, too, but often am baffled by whatever they're saying (and it doesn't matter how many times I look up the lyrics to "Scar Tissue" I can never remember what the chorus is saying - "Birds that share?" "Birds in shade?"  "Burma Shave?" - I hear him sing it and I'm all confused again).  Another downside to this hangup is that there are several bands that I'll happily buy the records of that I won't watch in concert.  If I can see someone singing on stage, but can't or can only barely hear him/her, then I'm not a happy camper.  I've gotten to where I prefer to see soloists, because the back up bands know that they'll be fired if they let their "guitar/drum/bass ego" get in the way of the audience hearing the singer. 

So, there is my lyric hangup.  And I suppose since I mentioned them in a positive way, I should share:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Radio vs. iPod

I don't listen to the radio much anymore.  You see, I like a lot of variety in my music and the vast majority of radio stations (or at least the majority in the Dallas/Fort Worth area) are not all that into variety.  We definitely have a lot of stations of various ilks, but they tend to get into ruts as far as playlists are concerned.  The majority of stations in the area are owned by Clear Channel, an entity not known for taking chances, but even before they dominated the metroplex, D/FW radio was already loaded with repetitive radio stations that played the same songs every hour of every day until you were sick of them.  We do have Jack FM now, which does have a fairly large playlist and brags of not playing the same song twice on any given day, but they still stick to the hits for any artist they play.  Two years ago we were blessed with KXT - the public broadcasting's totally music station - which I do love whole bunches.  They play a variety of genres and they play a lot of obscure stuff by artists you know.  Also have a lot of local bands, and we've NEVER had that in D/FW.  But even with the one great station and the one good station, I still only listen to about an hour of radio a day and that's when I'm driving back and forth to work.

Now my iPod on the other hand...

My husband bought me my first one around 6 years ago.  It is the best present I've ever received.  I use it almost daily and when I'm not using it directly, I'm still playing iTunes over my PC.  I currently have 10,146 songs on my PC and 9,992 on my iPod (the Christmas music goes on the iPod the day after Thanksgiving and comes off the day after Christmas.  I like the stuff, but only in 30 day doses with a good 11 month break in between.)  Being anal retentive (helllooo Virgo!) I have 21 playlists on my iPod.  However, the majority of the time, I am happiest just putting the music on random and seeing what kind of ridiculous sets it makes.  So, you get AC/DC sandwiched between John Denver and Yoshida Brothers.  Celtic folk music up against goth music and bluegrass.  And because I like weird covers,  you may get a Metallica song played by a bluegrass band (They're called Iron Horse and they are geniuses.)  or a punk group playing traditional Irish folk music (Drop Kick Murphys, Flogging Molly or The Tossers). 

So, that's my music listening habits in a nutshell.  Or at least in a blog post.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Good Music Day

Well, I'm just all sorts of posty this weekend.

Yesterday turned out to be a very good music day.  After seeing the Tony Bennett/Lady Gaga video I decided I wanted the album.  I also wanted the Neon Trees album after seeing them Thursday.  So, it was off to Best Buy to get rid of some of my discretionary funds.  Aside from those two albums - Duets II and Habits respectively - I also picked up the new Lady Gaga album, Born This Way.  Got the special edition with the second disc full of remixes.  The country remix of "Born This Way" is...interesting.  In a good way.

And then last night we went to see Tim Minchin.  For those who don't know, Mr. Minchin is an Australian, currently living in London, England, who does comedic ditties and stand up.  He is an incredible pianist as well. At one point he had us laughing just from the way he played a very complicated piece.  Did the whole show barefoot, which contrasted nicely with the tie (in my opinion).  Funny as hell, too. 

So, I suppose an example would be nice.  This is the piece he opened with.  There is strong language.

And, yes, that's his real hair. 

This piece is one of his best known.  So much so, that only 4 people in the audience didn't know it.  Which means you lose some of the impact of the joke, but it's still a funny song.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Making me happy in my music place

I like swing music.  I really like it when modern artists cover old jazz and big band songs.  So songs like the following make me feel things that are best left untyped on such a public blog:

And I also totally want her dress.

Friday, October 7, 2011

I am a Duranie

That would be a fan of the band Duran Duran, if you're uncertain.  I know some of you are going to scoff about 80s pretty boys. (And some of you are going to say "Who?"), but if you get past the flashy clothes and the naked chicks on the videos, you will find that there's 3 decades worth of good music created by this band.   True, a lot of their biggest hits were pretty much party music, but the did mature as they aged.   (Well...their music matured, I can't say on the personalities.)  They were also a very innovative band when it came to presentation.  First music videos to be shot on film as mini-movies.  First band to have the big screens on and around the stage so that those in the cheap seats could still see the band members.  So, anyway, I'm not at all ashamed to be a Duranie.  And last night they were at the Verizon in Grand Prairie.

The opening act was very impressive.  Neon Trees had one song hit the airwaves in Dallas and I very much liked it, but I never heard anything else out of them.  They made an excellent warm up band for Duran Duran.  For the first time in any DD show that I've attended, I saw the audience actually react positively to the opening act.  So the warm up band actually did warm up the audience.  A second first (if that makes sense) for me also happened at this show.  Duran Duran took the stage at the posted time.  I love the guys, but they do have a tendency to make the audience wait well past start time while they hash out the playlist or something.

Duran Duran was amazing.  All but one have passed the 50 year mark (and the one is quite close), but they have just as much energy as they did back in the 80s.  And now it's no longer fueled by cocaine so that's saying a lot.  The majority of the show was stuff off their new album, All You Need Is Now, but there was also a good smattering of older hits.  And this MBLF could not stop dancing.  The only time I actually sat down was to grab my purse to see if I could get a decent picture with my cell phone (the answer is "No, I can't.").  And I had a great view of my favorite of the guys - the surreal keyboard player, Nick Rhodes - so my inner fangirl was having as much fun as my inner musicfiend.  My concert buddy for the evening - Mel Hines the writer half of Two Lumps (shameless plug and/or name dropping) - had never seen Duran Duran live before and assured me that the show was worth the price.  So, it's not just me. 

So, here's a sample of something old - "Hungry Like the Wolf "

Something not quite so old - "Come Undone"

And something new - "All You Need Is Now"

And since they were there, too - Neon Trees "Animal"

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Short Blog today

I love musical synchronicity (no, not referring to to the Police album, although I love that, too).  I love it when the music comes on and is a perfect soundtrack to whatever you're doing at the moment.  Like the time that I ran out of Wal-Mart during an unexpected downpour.  I started my car and Natasha Beddingfield sang to me "...feel the rain on your skin!.."  Last night we got a good one.  We went to a midnight showing of Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.  After the movie got into the car and my favorite station was playing hillbilly music.  (Followed up by some alternative rock, so it's not like it is a mono-genre station.) 

What's your favorite example of musical synchronicity?

And since I mentioned it:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I play the ukulele.

Okay, admittedly, the title of the post is more an affirmation than the truth at this point.  I'm teaching myself to play the ukulele.  I'm hoping that if I keep telling people, I won't get bored and stop before I can actually play something well enough for someone to hear.  At this point I can get through the chords to "Popeye the Sailor Man" without stumbling and can stumble through a few more songs.  The lovely part is I've found ukulele chords and charts for free all over the web.  Everything from traditional ukulele music to modern rock songs.  So, I've got plenty of material to work on.

Cool things about the ukulele:
   A professional grade instrument can cost you as little as $100.  Not many other professional grade instruments are that cheap.
   The uke was originally a Portuguese instrument that was modified by the Hawaiians.
   They don't really make left handed ukuleles.  You can always flop the strings, but it's not recommended. (This is important to me as I'm left handed.  It felt really weird at first holding the instrument the "wrong" way.)
   Apparently, ukuleles are addicting.  Few people only have one.  (Yes, I already know what I want for my second one, but I'm not gonna until I'm comfortable playing in front of other people.  This is my bribe to myself.)  George Harrison apparently had quite a collection of them.

So, why would one want to play the uke?  Well, for me it was kicked off by an impromptu jam session at Christmas.  We had traveled to one of my cousins houses and didn't have a single instrument with us.  My husband grabbed a set of spoons and added percussion.  I pretended my voice was a flute and added upper harmonies to songs I'd never heard before.  Somehow, I didn't suck and was even complimented by one of the professional musicians in the group.  (insert happy dance here)  So, we did get to participate. On the drive home the next day, I lamented the lack of a good basic instrument that I could haul around.  Something small, but not like one of my flutes.  I'm not any good at making up harmonies on flutes.  So, an instrument that I could just chord along.  And then a song came on the radio.  And the answer was obvious.


I did make myself wait 3 months before actually looking to purchase one, just to make sure I was serious.  
And, yes, I do have the chords for "Hey Soul Sister" now.  Although, playing it is more a drunken crawl than a stumble.  But I'll get there!

Now to go practice.

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Yankovic is a god" - Waldo Butters

Okay, he may not be a god, but I'm willing to accept an avatar of a very twisted musical god who likes food, loud shirts and accordions.  Yes, I'm talking "Weird Al" Yankovic.  Last night he performed at the Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie and the hubby took me as part of my birthday present.  Now I have been a fan of this man since his very first performance on The Dr. Demento Show back in 1979.  Rock and Roll accordion?  Yeah, I'm in.  I've only seen him live once before (about 20ish years ago), but it was an incredible show, so I was really jazzed to be going again.

So, the show.

We sat down between a early 20 something couple and an older gentleman who looked rode hard and put away wet.  The male of the youngsters had Weird Al albums as a child, but hadn't heard any of his newer stuff.  The girl had never heard him, but came because the guy invited her.  I let them know it would be a good show.  The older gentleman (and I say older in relation to the youngsters, he was probably about my age) had, like me, been a fan from the beginning.  And these seats?  Row H, front and center.  I had a great view of my favorite madman.  Weird Al started the show exactly at 8:00.  (Jimmy Buffet is the only other performer who I've known to start at the time the ticket listed.  I approve.)  They started with the polka medley from the new album - Polka Face.  Boom! Energy.  He was playing an electric accordion of all things (I didn't even know Roland made electric accordions).  The song ended and he ran offstage.  Up comes a video - an interview from Al TV.  Video ends and here he and the band are now dressed as Nirvana.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  We lost count, but it came out to about 15 full costume changes and 5 or 6 partial costume changes.  During the actual changing he'd run clips from Al TV, The Weird Al Show or cultural references to himself in various TV shows and movies.  HELL of a show.  Aside from the electric accordion, he played a regular one (you can see it in the video below), 2 different keyboards and a harmonica (complete with bored looking roadie holding it for him during the harmonica solos in "Ode to a Super Hero").  During "Wanna B Ur Lovr" (a song that is composed almost completely of bad pickup lines) he actually walked around the audience and sang to various women (and one man).  At one point I was about 3 feet away from him.  (Yes, I squeed.)  Of course he was singing to the young girl that we were sitting next to, but she was right on the aisle, so I can't fault him there.  After nearly 2 hours of this, they said goodnight.  We waited patiently (if you can call chanting his name and clapping patient) and the band then came out in Star Wars get up.  Along with a chorus line of Stormtroopers and Darth Vader.  Weird Al then sang "The Saga Begins" and "Yoda" to wrap up the night.  I was quite pleased.  And very pleased that he mixed in a good bit of his older stuff along with the songs from the new album. 

So, here's the song that started him on his looooong career as the worlds number one weirdo:

And here's what he's doing now:

Yeah, he's still a god.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Music Based Life Form

My name is Lynette and I'm a Music Based Life Form.

No, I'm not 12-stepping to get over it.  I'm bragging.  I love being a MBLF and I love to share my music finds.  That's why I've started this blog - to share my obsession. 

Perhaps I should start with a definition.  A MBLF is not necessarily a great musician.  I've known some who have no talent in creating music at all.  I, personally, am solidly an amateur when it comes to creation.  I've also known folks with professional grade abilities who were decidedly not MBLFs.  So, a Music Based Life form is a person who requires music in their life.  Signs of a MBLF include:
1) They surround themselves with music constantly. 
2) They have trouble focusing on conversation if there is a good song in the background.
3) They will unconsciously tap their foot or move their hips to background music even if they are focused on the conversation.
5) They are constantly forcing their friends to listen to the new music they've discovered.
6) While they may have a favored genre of music, they tend to like a wide variety of genres.

There is more, but this is a good enough start to give you an idea.

So, in this blog, I'll be sharing things that I've found, blathering about concerts/shows I've seen and giving my opinions on musical trends.  Keep in mind everything here is my own opinion and is not meant to force anyone to agree with me.  I welcome discussion, but request that there be no poo-flinging.  At this point, I've no idea how often I will post.  I'll try for once a week at the minimum.  We'll just have to see how it goes.