Playlist ~ I’d rather post a song a day

So, clearly I’ve dropped the August Project though I have taken pictures every day.  I just haven’t had the desire to post them.  I felt inauthentic doing it so I’ve stopped and I’m ok with that.

There has been so much going on in the background to keep me pretty inspired anyway (so maybe it did work!); a new website coming soon, some new clients and, most exciting the launch of my Wholehearted project called We Are The Wholehearted.  I’d love you to take a look, I think you’ll really be inspired by the people I’ve interviewed.  They were so generous with their time and their willingness to be so completely honest about their lives.  I am still in awe.

So, a lot being planted.

That said, because I have my attention on a lot of things not much verbiage today so I gift you a playlist.  This is the “Abundant Moon” playlist.  I am sure it was compiled during a full moon – yes, I am usually that transparent!

Hong Kong ~ Gorillaz (I love kicking a yoga class off with this one)

How I feel ~ Wax Tailor ( I am Nina Simone (remix) junkie)

Lucky ~ Kat Edmonson (this is just such sweet, lucky, happy song)

Goin to the party ~ Alabama Shakes

Dixon’s Girl ~ Dessa (Introduced to me by one of my fav student, Ashly)

Que Sera ~ Wax Tailor

Bones ~ Michael Kiwanuka

How lucky we are ~ Meiko

Lasan ~ Michael Kiwanuka

Limit to your love ~ James Blake

Playlist: 6:15pm open class 7/25

This playlist I called “A drum beats”.  I don’t know why I called it that – I mean there’s a heavy bass line throughout this list but, it’s not from the sound of a lot of drums.  I often name my playlist’s based on the first sentence that pops into my head as soon as I hit ‘create a playlist’.  Hence, I have playlist names like ‘Abundant Moon’, ‘Emotional Retard’, ‘It’s a flawed argument’, ‘soul breathing’ and ‘PMS’d off’

Anyway, here is my ‘A drum beats’ playlist bought to you because Maryellen, a really devoted and committed yogi, made a point to compliment me on it.  So this, really, is to celebrate her and for her commitment to her practice and to showing up for herself over and over again.

And she has a kick arse back bend and rock-solid relationship with her family.

No Sand in my lipbalm ~ Moqita

La Femme Parallel (feat LouLou) ~ Thievery Corporation

Le Booty Cinematique ~ J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science Om Lounge

(I had a hard time finding an official version of this song on you tube, so I am using a commercial it is in)

3am ~ Naked Music NYC

Love is Everything ~ Naked Music NYC

Mouthful of Diamonds ~ Phantogram

Final Home ~ DJ Crush (feat Esthero)

Only You ~ Portishead

All I Need ~ Air

Lotus Flower ~ Radiohead

The End (kopfhorer Chill Remix) ~ Tube-tich

Eg Anda ~ Sigur Ros

Show Review: Valerie June

Engaging, prolific, charismatic, compelling, captivating, beautiful, funny, unique, distinctive, charming, understated, humble, soulful…I mean Soul. Full!

I’m having trouble choosing the one or two words which best describes Valerie June, and her music.  Except the word soulful – the 2nd one where I break it apart so it reads like her soul is full – but then, perhaps I am just describing how my soul felt after watching Valerie June at Rockwood Music Hall on Sunday night.

All these words could do her justice and would give you an accurate representation of her, but they wouldn’t completely describe her, or her music.

I was introduced to Valerie June, earlier in the year, from a conversation with a good friend who is fluent in the music industry.  He had caught her show at SxSW in Austin earlier this year and had told me how captivated he was.  Being a music ‘go to’ person for me, (his ipod takes precedence over mine) he is always introducing me to someone I hadn’t heard of before but there was something in the way he said her name that made me take note.  I felt compelled to do my research.

And I found this:

I know!  That’s how I felt.

So then I booked tickets to see her with The Wandering at Joe’s pub earlier in the year and heard this:

(Yes, that’s Luther Dickinson closest to the screen and yes, he’s playing 3 strings fashioned from a coffee can.  This is not Valerie singing but you have to hear Sharde’s voice – incredible.)

and then Valerie’s solo

Again.  I know!  But it was a mere taste and, while I knew Valerie June could share a stage I had an inkling that, on her own, she would totally own one.  On Sunday night, that she did.

When you first encounter Valerie it’s not hard to feel slightly intimidated.  She’s got that Amazonian height and Giacometti like body, all long and lean and lithe with a heavy crown of dreadlocks, like fat snakes, coiled endlessly atop her head and slithered across her shoulders.  In a word, Medusa comes to mind; If Medusa was really sweet, smiled a lot and her fierceness was in the way she holds a note, not in her desire to castrate.

There doesn’t seem to be anything angry, or intimidating, about Valerie June (but then, I reckon that southern charm could whip you around pretty quickly and she’s got a head full of fat dreadlocks that could take you down in seconds.)

Her music is described as organic moonshine roots music “hers is a twilight voice, a liquid silk from the heart of Tennessee” as the bio on her website describes.  All of it true but, and despite being a lover of words, trying to put music into words is sometimes not enough.  Whether you can accurately describe Valerie, or her music, it seems that you’ll come up with a similar description of both.

There are few artists, who I watch live, who can literally step into a song and make no separation between themselves and the music.  I’ve watched many great shows where I have felt entertained, and impressed, or where the artist seems to be ‘presenting’, or gifting their music to an audience – separating themselves from what they’ve created…”Here’s a song for you” but in Valerie’s music, and her presence, you become part of something all-encompassing, in the most uplifting, beautiful way.

Valerie June rocks out a note!  That girl pulls something from the depths of the earth, greets it with a smile and then coats it with her own distinct sound.  She can hold a note and stretch it so it sounds so metallic and penetrating it almost sounds like the chord of the banjo she plays.  It’s really just beautiful.  Could that be a description enough?  nope, still doesn’t feel right.

I had invited my friend Erin to the show and on our ride home, both speechless after the show, we put her CD into the car player (after we had bought ALL her CD’s) wound down our window, the summer’s night air whipping through our hair, and barely spoke (except to request a 2nd round of a song) the entire time.

Maybe that sums it up.

Here is a link to her website and videos of the Sunday night show follow.

(as I was combing through the webs looking for info I came across this site dedicated to dreadlocks.  Her locks were being profiled.  But the best thing about this article is the comment about the woman who called to find out where her Valerie June CD was…I think it gives a better insight as to who she is).
 
 
 
 

Birthday week playlist

I am really excited about what I’ve been listening to lately, so I wanted to share (be patient with the download….it takes a while (really only a minute…funny how that seems so long these days – Great music though, so hang out)

Cold Specks – Lay me Down

MS MR – Hurricane

Mast – UpUpUp

Thieving Irons – So Long (entire album is amazing)

Alabama Shakes – you ain’t alone

Valerie June – I will not be blue

Fly.

This morning a moth caught itself in my bathroom,
it flapped its wings ferociously in search of sunlight.

I reached out and cupped it, gently in my hands.
My fingers, slightly apart to let the light in.

As I walked, from my bathroom to my opened living room window,
which is no doubt where it came from, I whispered gently.

“I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you…….” and when I got to the window
I held out my opened, outstretched hand and said, “Now fly you beautiful thing”

And, it did.

Show Review: The Lumineers & Kopecky Family band

Last month, while scouring one of my favorite websites The Cool Hunter, I came across the song “Hey Ho” by The Lumineers.    Upon hitting the play button on the video it took no more than 30seconds before I was on Google, less than 10minutes to discover they were playing at Fairfield Theatre Company and less than 15min to book 2 tickets to the show!  All this while sitting cozy in my mother’s place in Melbourne, Australia.

I didn’t do much listening after that, just trusted my instinct that I would like the show and knew that a bar was close by if I didn’t.

I took along my music loving friend Cat (who also happens to be the owner/creator of the incredible skin care company Farm Couture seriously check out her Face Whip – ‘spanx for your face’ someone called it!)  She hadn’t heard of The Lumineers until I put them on my last playlist a week or so ago. So we were going in with ‘Beginners Mind’.  A good space to listen from actually.

I hadn’t heard of the opening act at all, Kopecky Family Band, and had little time to do any pre-show googling (didn’t actually even get the time to find out their names).  I’d like to say that I prepare myself for most shows, but I’d only be lying.

The FTC is a fantastic venue to see live acts, even those you’ve never heard of – especially those you’ve never heard of actually – because you’re up close and personal with the music.  Everywhere you sit is a prime seat.  It’s intimate, it has great acoustics and you really get the feeling you’re just hanging out in a living room getting a taste of something special.  Last Thursday, for Cat and I, that something special was the The Kopecky Family Band and The Lumineers.

Wow!  Let’s start with that.

Standing on stage, kicking off the night, were a collection of 6 (5 guys, one girl) fresh-faced, enthusiastic, 20-something hipsters.  I have to say, I immediately thought “Oh here we go, a gaggle of Brooklynites who picked up a few chords on an instrument and now they’ve formed a band.  Because it’s hip”.   Once again, my grandmother was right: Never judge a book by its cover.

The Kopecky Family Band didn’t just pick up a few chords from an instrument; they had an orchestra on stage.  A cello, bass guitar, electric guitar, lead guitar, xylophone, keyboard, tambourine, trombone, drums, accordion and chains!  It was like a musical cirque du soleil performance, with each member of the band, besides the drummer, playing more than one instrument during the set (Kelsey, the singer, played keyboard, tambourine, guitar, xylophone, accordion and the drum with sticks and the chains!)  Oh!  And they’re from Nashville, not Brooklyn.  My bad – once again!

From the first song Cat and I looked at each other like two little kids in a candy store.  Two excited kids who just discovered candy that was fun, fresh, toe-tapping, ethereal, melodic, layered, modern, enthusiastic and original.

Kelsey and Gabe (it’s a boy/girl vocal collaboration here), the two lead vocalists have great chemistry.  Kelsey has an ethereal beauty to her and she simply lights up on stage.  Her face and whole presence is open and excited.  She is a treat to watch and beauty to listen to and combined with Gabe’s more earthier presence, and charismatic charm they make a great front to this band.  All the members of the band are so into what they are doing (if they weren’t singing into a mike, they were mouthing their songs) and each had an individual quality to them which made this band feel just like a close-knit family.

During the set, near the end, Kelsey announced that they have sponsored a child from Ecuador and asked the audience for just a quarter to help.  I liked that.  A band, not just using their talents to earn a living, but to help someone else in a way that they can – and they’re not waiting to get famous to start!

Check em out!

There are some bands who saunter on to the stage, others who bound and some who simply arrive and place themselves right where they are supposed to be.  The Lumineers are one of those bands who arrive and you just know you’re in the presence of a collective of musicians who are standing exactly where they are supposed to be.

At the core of The Lumineers are Wesley Shultz (lead singer), Jeremiah Fraites (percussion and backup singer) Neyla Pekarek (Cello).  On stage however they added a keyboardist, bass guitarist and a close friend who did a great job on the bass drum, despite looking a little tentative about being there (I would be too considering the tightness of this band).  To me however, the fact they bought their friend on stage told me everything about the values that sit as the foundation of The Lumineers; family and connectedness.

Right out of the gate, this band brought the audience close and by the end of the set had us standing and singing and clapping and smiling.  Their music makes you feel good.  It is at once hopeful and nostalgic, thoughtful and jovial.  It is modern roots music that has you stomping your feet but stops you just short of wanting to ‘grab your partner by the arm’ and swing ‘em round and round and instead you want to just give your partner a big hug and say “F*#k life is good”.

In the audience were there families, who had driven from New Jersey.  We were sitting next to Shultz mother who, clearly in a state of uncontrollable pride, leaned over and said “That’s my son”.

“Congratulations, and thank you.  They’re great” was all Cat and I could say.

They ended the set with a great rendition of “The weight” ~ a fitting and beautiful tribute to Levon Helm who had passed of cancer earlier that day.

The Lumineers; here you go.

Both bands were gracious and generous enough to hang with the crowd afterwards, even selling their own merch.  Kelsey and Gabe, in particular, were engaging and we talked yoga and all things good and inspiring and health and wellness, which is, apparently, very important to this band!

Smiles with the Kopecky Family Band

Smiles with the Kopecky Family Band

Crazy eyes with the The Lumineers!

Crazy eyes with the The Lumineers!

Kopecky family band on stage

Kopecky family band on stage

Beginning of show.  The Lumineers on stage

Beginning of show. The Lumineers on stage

Jet Lag playlist

I’ve returned stateside from my month long Australian ‘Odyssey’, visiting family and friends.  It was, to say the least, exhausting.  A lot of being in other people’s spaces, with children I didn’t birth, dinners I didn’t cook and wine I might not have chosen to drink (but did anyway – and thankfully I discovered a good friend had developed a penchant for Patron Tequila.)  It’s all good,and I am grateful, but when you spend most of your year/life doing exactly what you want to do, eating exactly what you want to eat, when, with whom and where, it can feel like that moment when you realize you’re on a roller coaster and you can’t get off.  You’ve either gotta go with it, or f*@king scream.  I did both, one while everyone was watching, the other when no-one was (prize goes to the person who guesses correctly!) Read: I am getting older and a little stuck in my ways!

Perhaps another blog post will emerge out of my time away, since I am still working to piece it all together myself.  For now though, since it is 5:03am on a Monday morning and I still have not gotten to sleep and have to be up at 7:30 to teach at 8:30am, with a rather long day ahead of me, my first post back is going to be a playlist.  It’s the only thing that might keep me sane.

A playlist of some of the music I have discovered and/or been listening to a lot of this past month.  In no particular order.

I kind of wish I had put this at the top of the list…Love this voice

So many good songs on this album, had to go for another

Of course I had to put my man. Charles Bradley in here

You won’t be able to help yourself but fall in love with St. Vincent here

Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires ~ Melbourne, Australia

Charles Bradley.  If you don’t know that name do yourself a favor and Google him quickly, especially if you like the music of James Brown or Sharon Jones & the dap kings.  A week ago, I’d never heard of Charles Bradley and I love James Brown and have a serious girl crush on Sharon Jones (I want to come back as her in my next life.)

Ironically, I had sat next to His Extroadinaires band on my flight to Australia from the U.S. 2 weeks ago and had no idea who they were.  We engaged in small talk and they were friendly but I was distracted and a little fatigued to ask what band they were in (they were carrying instruments; it was obvious they were musicians).  Skip to 10 days later and I am in the car on my way home from a dinner, listening to my favorite Australian radio station Triple J, and I hear this song.

Which is a cover of this song:


A soul cover of a Nirvana song?  Yes!  This is what a cover should sound like – nothing like the original.  I knew I needed to know who this guy was but without pen and paper handy, or my ‘shazam’ app available I had to rely on vintage technology: concentration and memory.  I listened patiently, and carefully for the radio announcer to tell me who was singing this song and then, when she said Charles Bradley, it was a case of “Charles, Charles, friends kids name is Charlie, remember Charlie, Charles, Bradley, Bradley, sounds like Barkley, the basketball player, but not Barkley, you don’t like basketball, Bradley, think you have a cousin Bradley, remember brad? That kid from the street……” kind of conversation going in my head all the way home.  She also announced that he was playing at the Corner Hotel on March 18th.

Tickets booked almost immediately on arriving home.

I couldn’t miss him playing at the Corner Hotel, regardless of the fact that he has a big North American tour coming up this year.  The corner hotel is one of my favorite music venues in Melbourne.  It also has one of the best rooftop beer gardens in town.  If you’re ever in town, make it a point to spend an afternoon in the sun here.  The people are friendly, the food is great and beer is cold.  Even better, sign up for their newsletter ahead of time to get knowledge of who is playing – tickets sell out fast if it’s a good act.

Often referred to as Black Velvet, Charles Bradley was set to go on stage at 9:30pm but well before that, the place was teeming with a crowd ready to  embrace the ‘screaming eagle’ of soul who would end up embracing us.  The red curtains opened and His Extraodinaires band teased us with a few minutes of instrumental soul, they were tight and looked…..familiar? It wasn’t until a few songs in did I finally connect that these were the people I was sitting next to and joking with at the airport!  You know I love a good story of connection.

When Charles Bradley arrived on stage, he stood in the center, took in the scene, outstretched his arms  to reveal a fringe on his under sleeves, reminiscent of a late Elvis look, took to the microphone and placed layers of emotion as he belted out “heartaches and pain” for the first song.

He had me at the fringe.

It was like that for 90 minutes as he caressed, teased, danced and gyrated his way through the entire set.  Sweating and screaming and giving the crowd more than they could have imagined.  His voice is sultry and raspy, like he chain smoked his way to the microphone.  Charles Bradley is dramatic, he performs his songs with gestures (he does the one hand in the air, palm outstretched like he is reaching for the emotion he is singing about, grabs it and slowly pulls it down, tightly in the fist, to his chest).  Throughout his entire set he told us he loved us and, I really felt it!  At one point he stopped and said “You all have opened my spirit right now”.  Oh!  And there was some spirit alright.

It’s easy to place Charles Bradley in the same groove as James Brown; after all, he did moonlight as a James Brown impersonator under the name of “Black Velvet” and does have a similar sound to him –that wailing raspy voice – and looks similar to him as he moves, electrified on stage.  But Charles Bradley brings his own story to the stage (and his own style of pelvic thrust).  His is a story of struggle and pain and a life lived, off the stage, doing odd jobs, looking after an ailing mother and the loss of his brother who was murdered by his nephew.

His lyrics aren’t drenched in metaphor, they’re often literal like in the song ‘heartaches and pain’, the story of his brother’s murder: “people were crying, so I ran down to the street, my friend grabbed my shoulder and he said these words to me ‘life is full of sorrow, so I have to tell you this.  Your brother is gone.”

When he sings his songs, he is telling stories which make this man, and his music, even more compelling and why when you see him live you know you’re getting the real deal.  Most of the songs were from his album “No Time for Dreaming”.  An ironic title since, while Charles Bradley might not have led a life that left a lot of time for dreaming, at 62 and with his first album release just last year, I’d say this was the story of a dream coming true.

Soul-full!

Soul-Full!

14 Days of Love: Day 10 ~ Music

It’s Friday, 4 days to go.  If you’re anyone of my 4 dinner guests you’re not going to be able to focus on too many words.  So, I’m going for my last playlist for this series.  The hardest thing with this type of post is not what to include, it’s what not to include.  So, I went with goosebumbs and grinding as my decision maker.  If it gave me goose-bumps or made me grind in my seat – it made it.  It’s all below.

This song is Goose-bumper for sure!  I almost wanted to give it it’s own post.  I was only 8 when this song was released but, by the time I was ripe for new love experiences it had become a classic in Australia.  One of those songs that takes you on an epic journey.  It’s sexy and raw.  I love this version – I love the crowd singing along…I love the guys singing their guts out to this.  Says so much.

Another epic song for me.  It came out when I was in London, shuffling my way through my early 20’s. A time when you need an anthem.  This was mine.  Goose-bumps

Another anthem, but this time about love for family.  This was originally written when his partner had their child.  I chose this video because it is filmed in my home town of Melbourne, Australia.  In the city center.   A place close to my heart.  Goose-bumps.

Goose-bumps and a grinder for me (in the sexiest way)

Nostalgic Goose-bumps.  This reminds me of a long bus trip I took at 18 through the outback.  I had officially cut the apron strings, I was on my way…..to somewhere.

Goose-bumps.  Super simple song.  No other lyrics but I love you.  Says it all.

Jes Hudak is a new, young artist on the scene.  I saw her in New York city many years ago.  She often sings sweet pop melodies…but I love this new project she has going on.  Check her out.  www.jeshudak.com

Grinder, grinder, grinder.  I used to have daydreams of the guy I dated (in the future) singing this to me at Karaoke!

Obvious.

Best song for a guy to strip to.  Just saying.

Love & Light.  Goose-bumps and a grinder.

I never want to move when I hear this song.  I close my eyes and just big, fat tears want to come out.  This is songwriting at it’s most poetic – seek out the english translation.

Do I have to say anything about this?

I love that this could be about anyone in your life.