A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine told me of a Christmas tradition he has. When friends gather at his home for the holidays at some point he puts on a bootleg DVD of Nancy Sinatra's TV special from 1967, Movin' with Nancy.
I had no idea this show even existed but figured I could find it on YouTube. What a trip. Part establishment take on the psychedelic 60s, part ego-driven Frank Sinatra, add the strange uneasiness of Lee Hazlewood and the sexy Nancy Sinatra. Rat Packers Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. lend a hand.
The copy presently on YouTube isn't the greatest. A cleaner copy just got pulled so you best watch this sooner than later.
The band I'm in, Harmony Rebels, just released our first single last Thursday. I blogged about it on Friday. These past four days have been exciting and humbling. We've had so many great comments and people are listening to the song on SoundCloud.
Well, it's now available on iTunes. Right here -> "I wish you" on iTunes.
Plus you can listen to it on Spotify.
It'll be available for free download on SoundCloud until Thursday. But, hey, it's only 99 cents on iTunes and much easier to add to your music library, right?
I kept thinking about a title for this blog post. Something that would state the name of my band but also explain that, well, I'm in a band. So I went with the direct, simplistic approach.
I've loved music all of my life. People often ask me, do you play an instrument or are you in a band. Well, I tell them, I play guitar a bit. Then I shrug. I haven't been in a band since my early high school days.
I still play the guitar and last winter began taking singing lessons from the wonderful local singer Megan Elk. My thought was that I have all these song lyrics stuck in my head, I mean thousands of them, so why not sing them. I wasn't even sure I could carry a tune correctly. As it turns out, and is the case with many people, I can sing. I just have to do it correctly and get out of bad habits. I'm still working on those bad habits.
What would I do with my new found voice? In the back of my mind I imagined playing in a band, sure. But when my friend Jack Rugan asked if I wanted to sing in his new band Harmony Rebels I was beyond thrilled.
He explained to me the concept of the band. It was to be a vocally-focused group with lots of harmonies ala The Mamas And Papas and Fifth Dimension. He was going for a modern take on sunshine pop. I'm a huge fan of this sweet and innocent sound. I totally shared his vision.
So now we're recording an album and yesterday we released our first single, a Christmas song called "I wish you". When we listened back to the finished production we were so thrilled. It's magical to listen to a song go from a rough, minimalist demo to a fully realized lush production. Rugan is masterful at orchestration and layering our harmonized vocals. The evidence is this song which we honestly feel could be a Christmas classic.
It's on SoundCloud now (listen to it below) and will be on iTunes and Spotify in about a week or so. While it is on SoundCloud you can download it for free and share it. Once it's on iTunes you'll owe us a buck. ;)
The reaction from social media in the past 12 hours since it's release has been encouraging and humbling. Our publicist, Chuck Hathaway, wanted me to make sure to show you some of the nice comments we've received.
"I am flummoxed in the best way possible. It's hipster cool, but it's sincere as well. There's a vintage feel combined with a modern and free spirit. It's sweet but not sugary. Bravo!"
"Absolutely LOVE! More"
"Nice job, John. I look forward to hearing more! Very cool!!"
"Timeless! A cool vibe. I like it a lot."
"Loooooove the album art."
"Enjoy the vibe. Congrats!"
"It is beautiful."
"Sounds wonderful. looking forward to more..."
"I love the music and the art!"
We're so happy that our fans like the song as much as we do.
Over the winter we'll be working hard in the studio to create some pop perfections for you. We plan on releasing a full length LP in the spring. Between recording sessions, promotional junkets and photo shoots it should be lots of fun. It's such a blast working with Jack, Rhonda, Paula and the band.
Fans are already asking about live shows. That'll be down the road and, quite frankly, I'm already nervous.
I just wanted to finish by saying thanks to everyone who's already jumped on the sleigh. In the end our hope is to bring some sunshine into your lives. We'd love it if you'd "LIKE" our Facebook page, Harmony Rebels.
Front of the cover sleeve for the vinyl 45rpm we hope to release next holiday season.
And here's the back of the cover sleeve.
Finally, I put together a little mix of some sunshine pop to brighten your day.
Yesterday I presented my top 50 albums of 2013. Now it's time for the best singles of the year. The two lists often don't coincide. An artist may have made a single I love but the album wasn't as good. And then some albums may be great without a standout track.
In the end my singles list is all about what would sound good on the radio. You'll find this list full of so many hooks and melodies it becomes infectious.
The Spotify playlist isn't in numerical order but, rather, mixed for the best listening experience. Enjoy.
01. Moby - The Perfect Life
02. Daft Punk - Get Lucky
03. Foxygen - San Francisco
04. Vampire Weekend - Step
05. John Grant - GMF
06. Okkervil River - Down Down The Deep River
07. Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines
08. Youth Lagoon - Dropla
09. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Thrift Shop
10. Jake Bugg - Two Fingers
11. The Lone Bellow - Green Eyes And A Heart Of Gold
12. Kacey Musgraves - Merry Go ‘Round
13. Iron And Wine - The Desert Babbler
14. Empire Of The Sun - Alive
15. Eleanor Friedberger - When I Knew
16. Kings Of Leon - Supersoaker
17. She & Him - I’ve Got Your Number, Son
18. Camera Obscura - Do It Again
19. Frank Turner - Recovery
20. The Head & The Heart - Homecoming Heroes
21. The Cave Singers - Have To Pretend
22. Night Beds - Ramona
23. Anna Calvi - Suddenly
24. Justin Timberlake - Mirrors
25. Parquet Courts - Borrowed Time
26. Best Coast - This Lonely Morning
27. Cayucas - A Summer Thing
28. Franz Ferdinand - Love Illumination
29. The Mavericks - Back In Your Arms Again
30. Paul McCartney - New
31. Tegan And Sara - Closer
32. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Can’t Hold Us
33. Lana Del Rey, Cedric Gervais - Summertime Sadness
34. Willie Nile - This Is Our Time
35. Phosphorescent - Song For Zula
36. James Blake - Retrograde
37. Neko Case - Man
38. Yo La Tengo - Is That Enough
39. Smith Westerns - Varsity
40. CHVRCHES - Recover
It's here. My annual best of the year lists. So many great albums that I felt pain in being unable to include.
Here's the top 50 albums of the year as I see it at this time and place.
01. Iron And Wine - Ghost On Ghost
02. Vampire Weekend - Vampires Of The City
03. Phosphorescent - Muchacho
04. Jason Isbell - Southeastern
05. Washed Out - Paracosm
06. Camera Obscura - Desire Lines
07. Frank Turner - Tape Deck Heart
08. The Cave Singers - Naomi
09. Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience
10. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
11. Disclosure - Settle
12. Bear Mountain - Xo
13. John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts
14. Jonathan Wilson - Fanfare
15. Kurt Vile - Wakin On A Pretty Daze
16. Franz Ferdinand - Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
17. Minor Alps - Get There
18. The Mavericks - In Time
19. Ducktails - The Flower Lane
20. Yo La Tengo - Fade
21. She & Him - Volume 3
22. Foals - Holy Fire
23. Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer Different Park
24. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
25. Bombino - Nomad
26. Rachel Brown - Just Look My Way
27. Hey Mavis - Honey Man
28. Lily & Madeleine - Lily & Madeleine
29. The National - Trouble Will Find Me
30. Cayucas - Bigfoot
31. Sam Phillips - Push Any Button
32. Neko Case - The Worse Things, Get The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
33. Jake Bugg - Jake Bugg
34. Caitlin Rose - The Stand-In
35. Best Coast - Fade Away
36. Anna Calvi - One Breath
37. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away
38. David Bowie - The Next Day
39. Night Beds - Country Sleep
40. Indians - Somewhere Else
41. Houndmouth - From The Hills Below The City
42. Jagwar Ma - Howlin
43. Willie Nile - American Ride
44. Randall Bramlett - The Bright Spots
45. The Head And The Heart - Let’s Be Still
46. Kings Of Leon - Mechanical Bull
47. Josh Ritter - The Beast In Its Tracks
48. Laura Mvula - Sing To The Moon
49. Bill Ryder-Jones - A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart
50. Bonobo - The North Boarders
It's the day after Thanksgiving and I'm finally allowed to play Christmas music. It's me who disallows it before this day. And now I will immerse myself in the sounds of the season.
There's some good new releases this holiday season I'd like to share with you.
The Ohio City Singers - A Town Called Christmas
The third studio release from this Cleveland Christmas super group. I'll be buying a bunch of the CDs for gifts at their family show Saturday December 7, 4pm at Vosh in Lakewood. Spotify.
I saw Nick Lowe this fall at The Kent Stage where he played a song from this album. I've been anticipating it ever since. Spotify.
Gretchen Wilson - Christmas In My Heart
Now an indie country artist after being dropped by Sony in 2009 the rebellious nature she is known for is in evidence along side some classics. Spotify
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - It Feels Like Christmas Time
The second holiday release for these perennial purveyors of swing and jump blues. Spotify
Kelly Clarkson - Wrapped In Red
Surprisingly this is the first Christmas album from Clarkson. Just that she's the kind of artist who's a good fit for those 24/7 commercial radio Christmas music stations. This one proves it. Spotify
Glen Hansard & Mark Geary - Christmas Biscuits(In Aid of St. Vincent De Paul)
A benefit for, yes, St. Vincent De Paul. Unfortunately it's just a single and not a full length by the heartfelt troubadour Glen Hansard. Spotify
Tonight at Brothers Lounge you can thank a whole bunch of local musicians for the music they've given us in 2013. It's the 39th Annual Peanuts All-Star Jam and Brent Kirby's 10 x 3 Songwriter/Band Showcase taking place in the main hall and wine bar.
A fixture on the local music scene and long time rock writer, Peanuts has been throwing this all-star jam since 1975. It was first held at Hennessy's in Lakewood and since then has taken place at The Music Machine, The Phantasy, Barney Google's, Rumrunners, D'Poo's, Peabody's Down Under, Stampers, The Beachland Ballroom, Hi-Fi Club, Breakfast Club and finally Brothers. Those venues are sure to bring back memories.
Headlining bands over the years include Labrynth, Strutter, Andy Gerome Band, Souvenir, Insanity & The Killers, Testing New Eyes, The X-Ray Teds, Extra!! Extra!! and Sweetleaf. Beginning in 1996 the headliner has been an all-star band put together by Peanuts.
This years players are Jim Bacha on bass, lead vocalist George Yunis, drummer Jon Darling, guitarists Cy Sulak and Jerry Zsigo and keyboard player Bruce Kowalski.
Local musicians who've jammed at the event in the past have included Arty Peeler, Henry Statler, Quinn Sands, Jeff Beam, Mark Roman, Evan Black, John J. Adams, Bill Sapp, Jeff West, Rich Spina, Mike Misiak, Wally Gunn, Norm Isaac, Dan Hrdlicka, Bill Pettijohn, Al Berdis, Ray Varga, Rich Reising, Dale Baker, Shannon Carey, A.J. Robey, Mar Serio, Jack Snyder, Bob Coulson, Jim Greer, Tony Cuda, Chris Cuda, Larry Jester, Dave "Jiffy" Jeffi, Russ Kotts, Geoff Kelleher, Gary Simmons, Paul Fayrewether, Steve Calabria, Bill Sapp, Nomr Tischler, Bob "The Cop" Bonness, Brad Beaton, Gus Oswald, Terry Kellerman, Jeff Hurd, Donnie Baker, Alan Greene, Jimmy Ley, Debbie Lewin, Rick Kalister, Phil James, Paul Pope, Dave Ivan, Al McGinty, Eric Michael Hermann, Sam Helton, Weasle Strychnine, Jim McShane, Lynn Jarrell, Frank Amato, Bill March, Don Krueger, Carol Franklin, John Daubensback, Marke Lee Shannon, Paul Christensen, Danny Powers, Kevin McCarthy, Danny Cox, Neil Bartos, Billy Hanna, Wayne Weston, Jeff Varga, Don Wingle, Ken Hammer, Becky Boyd, Jack Rush, Bill Mangano, Bob Sabat, Bob Palumbo, Rick Montanari, Ron Latare, Mike Gallagher, Rob Garraccio, Paul Lewis, Jeff Harmon, Bob Stokes, James Stokes, George Duffy, Diane Carnett, Brian Henke, Byron Nemeth, Dave Holmberg, Jesse Bryson, Duane T. Bubsey, Ed Sarley, Tommy Varga, Terry Kay, Mike Binder, Eric Kaleal, Tony Mazzone, John Atzburger, John Eckhert, Holly Oberton, Ted Swan, Billy Sullivan, Tommy Rich, Lisa Caito, Jimmy Clark, David Bacha and others.
So who'll jam tonight and be added to that list?
In the Wine Bar it's Bob Dylan night at the 10 x 3, in that one of the three songs each of the ten performers play has to be a Dylan song. The other two must be originals.
Here's the line-up:
8:00 Marcus Whiteamire and Candee Brown
8:20 Stefani Reeder
8:40 Jim Keserich
9:00 Allie Bencar
9:20 Jordan Genovese
9:40 Andrej Cuturic
10:00 Dan Miraldi
10:20 Nate Jones
10:40 Larry Trupo
11:00 Brent Kirby
It's all free. I'll be meandering between the two rooms throughout the night. I hope to see you there so I can wish you a Happy Thanksgiving in person.