Saturday, May 19, 2012


Heroes is the title of the newest Willie Nelson album, which I discussed in an earlier blog as coming out on May 15th.  I was unable to procure it on the day it came out, but made up for it today.  I am soooo happy that I was able to snag it.

I will admit, Willie's voice has deteriorated a bit over the years.  However, considering it's never been the best voice on the planet, it's still a good voice.  He manages to put a lot of emotion behind his traditional vibrato.  And his son Lukas, who sings duet with him for much of the album, is the same tone, if a slightly higher pitch.  I posted "Breathe" in an earlier blog.  That was a duet.  Go listen again.

So, we already knew that he covered a Pearl Jam song.  He also covers Tom Waits and Coldplay as well as some older C&W songs (heavy on the W).  The Coldplay song - "The Scientist" - is one of my favorites and got zero play in D/FW.  I understand that it was recorded for a Chipotle Mexican food commercial for last year's Super Bowl.  I don't mind, it's a great cover. 

Willie co-wrote several of the songs.  His son Lukas wrote about as many by himself.  I don't know what else Lukas has done, but I approve of his song writing.  He's very much a chip off the old block.

And, yeah, Willie does a song with Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson called "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die".  Snoop Dogg actually SINGS, not raps.  He's got a decent voice.  According to Wikipedia, they were originally going to use this song as the title to the album, but were afraid the more conservative outlets would be offended.  Pity one has to take that into account.  So, the following video shows pictures of Mr. Nelson partaking in marijuana.  If that offends, close you eyes and just listen.  Or, no, just don't click as the lyrics will probably offend as well.

Here's the cover of "The Scientist".  It's a beautiful song, even if it was used for a Chipotle commercial.

I'm definitely not a Christian, but I kinda agree with the sentiment of this song. "Come on Back Jesus"

Okay, enough.  I'll let you go find the rest for yourself.  Or better yet, go buy the album.  The old man still has It.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Celtic Rock

As I've mentioned before, I love it when traditional music is played in an untraditional way.  There is a very healthy Celtic music following in the D/FW area - despite the small amount of venues - and we're friends with several folks who perform.  One of the gentlemen pirates who used to sing with my husband in The Corsairs is now lead singer for a group called Irish Blind.  They play Celtic rock and it is a wonderful thing.  A mix of rock instruments - electric bass, electric guitar and a trap set - with Celtic instruments - penny whistle, mandolin - and a stray accordion on occasion.  They've got a few original tunes thrown in with the traditional tunes and they play with a great deal if energy.  Oh, hey!  They're on YouTube.  Who knew?

And because I titled this post as Celtic Rock and not Irish Blind, I shall share a few of my other favorites when it comes to this kind of music.

The Drop Kick Murphys - Shipping up to Boston.  The video has nothing to do with the lyrics, but that's not unusual with professional videos these days.

Flogging Molly - Seven Deadly Sins

The Tossers - Good Morning Da.  This is a very fun video and actually follows the story of the song.

Mumford and Sons - Little Lion Man.  Yes, I count this as Celtic rock.  They are part of a movement in the UK to bring folk music back into the mainstream.  Pretty much exactly what the Celtic rock groups here are doing except for us it's imported folk music.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any videos of my favorite Celtic rock group - an Australian group named Brother.  They broke up before the advent of YouTube and cell phones with video, so nothing has been posted on them.

Other groups you might look up - Seven Nations, The Blarney Brothers, Six Mile Bridge, Blackmore's Night.

Who's your favorite Celtic rock band?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Seriously? Cool!

I occasionally resort to Stumbleupon when I'm bored.  I've got a lot of music likes listed on it, so, it often gives me little gems.  Today I got two really sweet ones.

This guy built a pipe organ.  A PVC pipe organ.  I'm not sure what he's using as sticks - they look suspiciously like leather paddles (don't ask how I know). 

And I don't know anything behind the making of this video other than it is priceless.  I absolutely love well done a capella covers of rock songs.  Not only is it a good cover, it's beautifully choreographed.

I'm having a good music day, how about you?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

You know how I love mashups...

...and live ones are even better.  Got this from our friend Devin who is definitely a MBLF.

Pure Genius!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

One Year Anniversary!

One year ago today, I purchased my ukulele!  Okay, I'm still not an expert, but I can make my way through a few songs.  Also, I got to spend some of the weekend jamming with my fellow ukulelian, Erin.  I think I need more jam sessions.  Playing with other people, makes all that playing alone worthwhile.

The other thing I did this weekend was go to the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival.  Erin lives right across the street, so it made for a good place to hang between ventures into the - unfortunately - quite dusty venue.  Heard a lot of music in passing, but settled down to actually listen to a Texas Swing Band, which I unfortunately never caught the name of.  Also, finally got to see Brave Combo live for the first time since the late '80s when I was catching them at a hole in the wall bar called The Library.  This was a little before they became semi-famous.  So, I think I'll spam you with a bit of nuclear polka.

Did I mention that I played clarinet in Jr High and High School band?  Yeah, I was pretty good, but I'd never have been asked to sub for the guy in the above video.

The Denton in the title is, of course, Denton, Texas where they started out and the only place I've seen them live.  Bonus points if you realized that the line "Denton, the home of happiness" came from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show".

And one last one, because you know I can't leave you without trying to break your brain.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Willie Nelson

I'm not terribly vocal about it, but I'm definitely a fan of Willie Nelson.  He doesn't have the greatest voice in the world, but he knows how to use what he has to his best advantage.  He writes good songs and he covers good song.  He is probably my favorite C&W performer (Johnny Cash being his only rival for the #1 spot in my heart).  So, today I was listening to KXT on the way to work and they played a song off his upcoming album for New Music Monday.  I nearly squeed when I realized what he was covering:

Why, yes, that is a Pearl Jam Song.  Bit of a mind-bender, no?  Want an even bigger mind-bender?  I went to his website and read up on the new album.  Among the artists he recorded with is Snoop Dogg.  Yeah, that one was hard to digest.  Other artists on the album are Merle Haggard, Cheryl Crow, Kris Kristoferson and his sons Lukas and Micah.  It's not going to be out until May 15.  Guess what I'm going to be purchasing on May 15.

So, here's some of my other favorite Willie songs.  I suspect you've heard most of them, but I still want to share.

(Oh, and I can play this on ukulele now.  Hee!)

Two great musicians who sound great together. 

Okay, I'll stop there, or I'll be linking to a bajillion songs.  Although, there is still "Pancho and Lefty" and "Crazy" and....

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lyle Lovett

I have been aware of Lyle Lovett for a while, mainly because he married Julia Roberts, but I until quite recently have never heard his music.  That changed a couple of years ago when KXT came into being and became my only radio station.  They play him on a semi-regular basis.  I have discovered that I like his brand of rocky country (or perhaps countrified rock) quite a bit.  So, I keep saying I need to get some of his music.  I'm thinking the first album I pick up needs to be Pontiac which came out in 1987.  Specifically for the following song.  Because every time I hear it, I HAVE to crank up the radio and sing along.  I suppose I'm very fortunate that KXT plays it so often, considering it's age.

Seriously.  How can you not smile listening to that song?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jake Who?

Last night I met a ukulele god.  Well, I didn't actually meet him, because my hubby wanted to go to the club after the show, but I did see him on stage and have been totally blown away.  His name is Jake Shimabukuro and he is my master now.  In the course of his performance, he managed to make the ukulele sound like a blues guitar, a banjo, a frickin' snare drum, a flamenco guitar and a koto (Japanese 13 string harp).  And also a ukulele.  But, AMAZING ukulele. 

Enough blather!  Here, I'll show you.  Some Rock 'n' Roll:

And the flamenco guitar?

And the banjo?

And the koto?

I could go on, but I'll allow you the pleasure of looking it up for yourself.  Here's his home page.  He's got albums.  Go buy.  Support this man so he will keep doing what he does!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

I lurves the interwebs...

So, I recently got onto Stumble Upon and loaded it with every music love I could find.  Today it gave me an encyclopedia of plucked instruments.  And as I was perusing the lute section I complained to my Dear Husband that the picture of the chitarrone was too small for me to see all the wonderfulness that they described in the article.  So, he did a Google Image Search.  Wow!  For an instrument I'd never heard of, there was a butt load* of pictures on the web.  This is the instrument in question:

Pretty cool, huh?  But wait.  That doesn't really give you a perspective on the instrument.  Allow me to try again.

Yeah.  That instrument is wider than my torso.  I could in no way have ever played it.  Not to mention that my fingers couldn't reach all the way across that fretboard.  But it does have a pretty sound.

Didja notice that there is a tail that he had to sit on to make sure that the instrument would stay in place while he played it?  Pretty damn cool.

And for those who want the details, a chitarrone is a bass lute that was developed in the Renaissance.  Mozart was known to include a chitarrone part for some of his orchestral pieces.  So, now you have a wonderfully useless bit of trivia to spout at people when you want to ensure blank looks. 

*Butt load = two hogsheads

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Still limping along...

I've just been entirely too short of funds to go to shows and have been limiting my music purchases.  That last being said...

As you know, I play ukulele (at least I think I've gotten to the point that I can say that.  Still not anywhere near being able to say I've mastered the instrument, though).  So, you'd think I'd have some Hawai'ian music in my vast quantity of music.  Well, to be honest, up until yesterday the only Hawai'ian music I had was the two pieces that were on the Lilo & Stitch soundtrack.  Mostly, when it comes to the uke, I've been concentrating on learning songs that I know, figuring that I'll learn the chords better if I already have an idea what the song should sound like.  So.  Last week I stumbled upon a great mash up of "Don't Worry, Be Happy", "I'm Yours" and a medley of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World".  The later two songs by a gentleman called Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (goes by IZ for some reason).  Having no idea who he was, I hit Wikipedia and found out he was big in Hawai'i. 


Sadly, he died young, but in the time he was alive, he recorded a lot of traditional Hawai'ian songs along with covering a few English songs.  He had a beautiful voice. And he played the ukulele.
Yeah, somehow the uke looks bigger when I play it. 

So, now I have one of his albums - Facing Future - and I'll probably be getting all of them, because he's that good.  The following song is from that album, but I can't find anywhere on the album that says who wrote it:

This one makes me want to learn to hula:

The next is probably his most famous recording, mainly because most Americans aren't going to listen to a song if they don't know the language.

So, I suppose I'll leave you with that.  I highly encourage you to go find his music yourself.  It makes me Dance!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Did another CD run

We went to Best Buy with the slim hope that they might have the new Gotye album.  (No, not Goatsy.  That's gross.)  Seeing as he's from New Zealand and not on any of the Clearchannel Stations, we didn't have much hope, but Best Buy has surprised us before.  Not this time, though.  So, instead we picked up Florence and the Machine, Ceremonials and then dug around in the $5 bargain bin.  After much hemming and hawing, I decided to replace two Billy Joel albums that I lost when my record collection died a horrible death - 52nd Street and Glass Houses.  "You May Be Right" from Glass Houses was my first exposure to Billy Joel (at least that I can remember).  I loved the song, so bought the album.  When the whole album turned out to be great I went out and bought 52nd Street and The Stranger.  Still haven't replaced the latter, but I'll get around to it eventually.

Ceremonials turned out to be just as good as I was hoping.  I really like every song on the album.  I love the fact that Florence doesn't have a cookie cutter Pop Princess voice. She puts a lot of emotion into her vocals.   Florence and the Machine have definitely earned all the nominations and awards they have gathered with this album.  Hopefully, they will be able to maintain the quality of this album through their career. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lost another Songbird

Davy Jones was 66 when he died of a heart attack today.  I know, I know - he wasn't the most talented musician on the planet.  As far as I know the only instrument he played was maracas (but he could play 4 at one time, by golly!).  He did not have the vocal talents of Whitney Houston and he did not have the writing talents of Amy Winehouse.  He broke no barriers and made no huge changes in the world.  However, he affected me more than the two ladies listed by a longshot.  Why, you ask? 

Rock and Roll.

I grew up in a house that listened to Country Western Music with the odd bit of Mexican music when Mom pulled out her records.  It was not a very musically varied place when you had access to a few radio stations and pretty much nothing on TV (MTV didn't come out until I was in High School and I didn't get cable until my 3rd year of college).   I still like C&W, there is a lot of good music in that genre.  But it was The Monkees and The Banana Splits that introduced me to Rock and Roll.  Mind you it was a very fluffy, family friendly type of rock, but it still wasn't what I was used to listening to.  It was the gateway drug for a 10 year old chick from the country to expanding her horizons music-wise.  I still like The Monkees and have several of their song on my iPod.  I may have to hunt down Davy's last album (came out in 2009) to see if his music ever matured or if he just stuck to what he knew he was good at. 

So, Good-bye, Davy Jones!  You made me a Believer

Sunday, February 12, 2012

So there I was...

messing about with my ukulele.  I flipped through my sheet music and stopped at Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" because a) I like the song and b) I hadn't tried to play it yet.  Except when I started, I suddenly froze up on tempo and chording.  Well, what I usually do when that happens is pull out the iPod and play the song, except that I don't have this song.  Instead I drag uke and music to the office and pull up YouTube.  And this little guy pops up:

Isn't he adorable?!  He has no idea of the words, but, by golly, he's got the chords down pat.  I love this.  Make the music and don't worry if you have it right, just enjoy yourself.  And he really looks to be having a blast. 

I did finally pull up the original version and work out my tempo issues. I'm still not sure if I'm even half as good as our little genius in the video, though.

Well, I piddled around with my ukulele specific sheet music and then got to wondering what all music I had on the shelf that might have chords.  Holy crap, I've got a lot of sheet music.  Most of it is from when I regularly played piano, so there's a lot of 70s and early 80s music.  Happily, a lot of the piano music came with guitar chords as well.  And since chords are chords, I just have to look up any I don't know on my uke chart and hope they're something I can learn.  Among the gems I found were 2 books of early 80s pop music, a Simon & Garfunkel book which I have no idea where it came from, a Glenn Campbell book that I think I got from my mom, and - joy of joys! - the complete sheet music from the original Muppet Movie.  I'm thinking "Rainbow Connection" and "Going to Go Back There Someday" will be at the top of my list for my next practice session.

Monday, January 23, 2012


So, my hubby and I were driving down the road here recently when the song "Lisztomania" by Phoenix came on.  I have on any occasion attempted to figure out the lyrics and mentioned to him that, try as I might, I could not grok what they were singing about.  He admitted that he was in the same boat (despite the fact that we were in his pickup).  Out comes the Instant Trivia Device!  (Most of you know that as a smart phone, but really, I use mine predominantly to find answers to random questions that pop into my head.)  A quick Google search brings up the lyrics.  Here, let me share:

So sentimental, not sentimental no
Romantic not disgusting yet
Darling, I'm down and lonely when with the fortunate only
I've been looking for something else
Do let, do let, do let, jugulate, do let, do let, do

Let's go slowly discouraged
Distant from other interests on your favorite weekend ending
This love's for gentlemen only that's with the fortunate only
No, I gotta be someone else
These days it comes, it comes, it comes, it comes, it comes and goes

Think less but see it grow like a riot, like a riot, oh
I'm not easily offended
It's not hard to let it go from a mess to the masses

Think less but see it grow like a riot, like a riot, oh
I'm not easily offended
It's not hard to let it go from a mess to the masses

Follow, misguide, stand still
Disgust, discourage on this precious weekend ending
This love's for gentlemen only, wealthiest gentlemen only
And now that you're lonely
Do let, do let, do let, jugulate, do let, do let, do

Let's go slowly discouraged, we'll burn the pictures instead
When it's all over we can barely discuss
For one minute only, not with the fortunate only
Thought it could have been something else
These days it comes, it comes, it comes, it comes, it comes and goes

Think less but see it grow like a riot, like a riot, oh
I'm not easily offended
It's not hard to let it go from a mess to the masses

Think less but see it grow like a riot, like a riot, oh
I'm not easily offended
It's not hard to let it go from a mess to the masses

This is show time, this is show time, this is show time
This is show time, this is show time, this is show time
Time, time is your love, time is your love, yes time is your
Time, time is your love, time is your love, yes time is your

From the mess to the masses

Think less but see it grow like a ride, like a ride, oh
Discuss, discuss, discuss
Discuss, discuss, discouraged

Sooooo...yeah.  After much careful study (and a dive into the dictionary - jugulate is a real word.  It means to kill by slitting the throat of the victim) I think I know EXACTLY what the lead sing is saying.  It translates to "I forgot to take my anti-psychotics this week."  *nods knowingly*

However, I still totally dig this song.  It's just a hell of a lot of fun.  Lyrics be damned!

And for those of you who are not into classical music - the word Lisztomania was first coined to describe the fan frenzy that occurred whenever Franz Liszt performed.  Proving that crazy fangirls were not created by the Beatles and in fact existed at least as far back as the 1840s.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Not giving up...

Got distracted by the holidays and lack of motivation, but I'm not going to give up on the blog.  Things have settled and we've recovered from the holiday financial crunch, so I think I'll have more to babble about.  I'm seriously hoping to get out to more shows this year.  We weren't able to get season tickets for the opera this year, but I'm really going to try to get to one of the last shows.  I just have to get my act together.

So, what's been happening musically in my life - mostly practicing the ukulele and listening to my iTunes.  I've finally started wrapping my fingers around the B and Bb chords.  These chords are identical, just one fret off.  They require me to press 2 strings with my forefinger and then two other strings with the 2nd and 3rd finger.  Problem being with getting the pressure right on both the strings the forefinger is holding AND keeping my hand raised enough that my wedding ring doesn't touch the first string.  I am now able to do this, but I'm still having trouble being able to do it consistently when switching from other chords.  I am getting there, though.

I now have 10,247 songs on my iTunes thanks to Best Buy's sale bins.  I specifically went there to pick up The Black Keys new album, El Camino.  It is an excellent rocking album, with a lot of energetic songs.  This was the first release:

The don't appear to have an official music video.  I chose this one because the guy was having such a fun time with the song and the music quality was perfect to the album.  As you can hear, it is another one of my perky dysfunctional love songs.

The other 3 CDs I picked up were Greatest hits albums.  Electric Light Orchestra, All Over the World, which at $10 for 20 songs was a great buy; The Best of Berlin, because I'm an 80s music type of gal; and The Best of Louis Armstrong, because I'm also a big band/jazz type of gal.  What amuses me is that I've got a lot of Louis Armstrong music, but I did not have one of the songs on this particular Best Of album.  Which just goes to show that when you've made that much music, you really can't have a Best of album without making it a double or triple album.  The latter 2 albums I found in the $4.99 sale bin and I could have spent quite a lot more on music had I not already given myself a limit (which I was well over just grabbing the 2).

So, with that I'll sign off.  May go see if I can add Eb to my repertoire.