Archive for February, 2010

Making Music in America

February 22, 2010 - 7:45 pm Comments Off

Big thanks to everyone who made it out to my January solo concerts in Florida and Michigan… it was mighty good to see you!

On the Air/In the Studio
Woody Guthrie’s America. Progressive rock “freak folk wildmen” Akron/Family just issued Woody Guthrie’s America, a collaborative project composed and steered by Seth Olinsky to pay tribute to Guthrie, the American folk music legend. Various artists submitted their versions of the song, with contributions ranging from Danish alternative rock band Slaraffenland to actress-musician Charlyne Yi (Cloverfield, Paper Heart). Williamsport-based musicians Michael Eck, Fletcher Kaufman, and I were included. Downloads of Woody Guthrie’s America are free. My version is here.

Four newish videos are up on my YouTube Channel—an acoustic demo of my song “If I Could Dress Like Clive Owen,” two clips (“Frontiers of Love,” “My Funny Valentine”) from the 2004 Invasion of the Singer-Songwriters at Jeremiah’s, and “A Little Industriak Nachtmusik” (a collaboration with Davy Jones and John Bechdel of Fear Factory/Killing Joke). Please tune in! I can feel you watching me!

On February 8th, The Billtown Bus Stop Radio Hour featured Beyondo a.k.a. Eric Biondo. The “all Beyondo” program features his solo recordings as well as music he recorded with the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, TV On The Radio, and other notables. We also aired two as-yet-unreleased Beyondo productions: A new song of mine called “Night Garden” and Davy Jones singing a really new pop-waltz version of “I’ll Love You Forever” (with brilliant sax work from Aviva Maloney and David Robicheau on tasty twang guitar).

Current and past BBS Radio Hours have been archived and can be listened to at Northcentralpa.com. The BBS Radio Hour features live performances, interviews, and exotic and charming music by music acts such as Ron Fleeger & the Stranger, Mike Garson (pianist for David Bowie), In Musth (with Felipe Torres), and Davy Jones, as well as special appearances from Joseph Smith III, author of The Psycho Files: The Comprehensive Guide to Hitchcock’s Shocker, Williamsport Mayor Gabriel Campana (playing his favorite platters), and other luminaries. Tune in when you can!

What do I listen to?
Often I get asked, “Hey Blair, what are you listening to lately?” Thanks to the Williamsport Sun-Gazette for pinning me down on this question.

Play skillfully with a loud noise (Psalms 33:3)!

Hello, People!

February 8, 2010 - 10:18 pm Comments Off
accordion

Photo: Olynewcastle

We made it another year. Here’s what’s new around here… An acoustic demo of my (kinda new) song “If I Could Dress Like Clive Owen” is up and running on my YouTube channel. A newly made video for “A Little Industrial Nachtmusik” (a collaboration with John Bechdel and Davy Jones) can also be viewed. Both were made by CVBlair, utilizing the best in Mac multimedia technology. Please tune in… your feedback is mightily appreciated. Thanks!

On the Air/In the Studio
My Monday night broadcast, The Billtown Bus Stop Radio Hour,” is now available on podcast. Current and past shows can be listened to “anytime/anywhere” at NorthcentralPA.com. I perform live on the air, do interviews, and play exotic and charming music by special guests, from Beyondo to Michael Miller. Past guests have included Ron Fleeger & the Stranger, Mike Garson (pianist for David Bowie), In Musth (with Felipe Torres), Joseph Smith III (author of The Psycho File: The Comprehensive Guide to Hitchcock’s Shocker), Williamsport Mayor Gabriel Campana (playing his favorite platters), and other luminaries. Tune in when you can!

…the show was profiled in the 1/10/10 Williamsport Sun-Gazette Night Life magazine. Read the article here.

Rescued from the Bowels of Pop Culture and Litigation
“Stairway to Gilligan’s Island” by Little Roger and The Goosebumps. I knew Roger from the San Francisco music scene (last I saw him was early 80s on a MUNI bus). He put “Stairway” out as a parody (protected under the first amendment) in 1978 on a self-released 45. However, Led Zep’s management barraged Roger with lawsuits, so Roger (your basic starving artist) withdrew it, since he couldn’t afford legal fees. Time went on, and the track was embraced by Dr. Demento and, in 2005, Robert Plant gave Roger a break, saying the track was his favorite cover of the song. One day I was grazing in YouTube and, thrills and chills, I found this video! I’m so happy! I sometimes play a reduction of Gilligan-Stairway at my live shows (comes in handy to get laughs or when I break a string)… that, along with Gilligan Theme-Born to Run (Springsteen) or Brady Bunch Theme-Jumpin’ Jack Flash. The possibilities are staggering!

And on that note…
When you get on a stage, you already have an edge whether you feel nervous or not. People in the audience assume that you must have something to say, or else you wouldn’t be getting up there in the first place. They’re ready to listen. They think you’re in charge. You’re going to give it your best shot. However, are you ready to create a moment on the stage? This is a question musicians need to ask themselves. Louis Armstrong, the great American musician and jazz pioneer, saw himself as an entertainer first. Miles Davis rarely spoke to his audiences, but he was volcanic in the way he dressed and the way he commanded his band. I’ve had shows fraught with technical problems, but I learned how to make it part of the schtick. Or, to paraphrase Davy Jones, you can deliver with just a fife and a drum. It’s not just about being a top-flight musician with nice gear. How many times have you gone to see some artist who sounded great on record but could’ve been a cardboard cut-out on stage? You could’ve watched stumps in your backyard. Once you’re on that stage, there’s a different expectation. People want to be moved. Here’s a good podcast about developing what’s inside your music and presenting it so it connects with something bigger than just you.

Keep those postcards and notes coming. Play skillfully with a loud noise (Psalms 33:3)!