Tuesday, September 29, 2015

American Roots New Single & Video: Cashavelly Morrison - Pink Dress From the album The Kingdom Belongs to a Child Release: October 30, 2015

From a media release:

New Single & Video:
Cashavelly Morrison - Pink Dress
From the forthcoming album The Kingdom Belongs to a Child
Release: October 30, 2015

Pre-order/Buy the CD

West Virginia's Gothic Americana songstress Cashavelly Morrison premiered her debut music video for "Pink Dress" on The Boot who called the song and accompanying imagery "haunting and raw".

Cashavelly Morrison grew up in a coal-mining town in West Virginia. She began her life in performance at the age of 3 as a ballet dancer, which continued for the next two decades until she broke her spine. Yet it was not until moving to North Carolina that she was introduced to the rich musical traditions of West Virginia and the surrounding region. With distance came perspective as she began to relish the rich history of Appalachia and the haunting stories of her childhood.

The debut album The Kingdom Belongs to a Child represents a confessional gateway into loss, having suffered a miscarriage in 2010 and her father last year, as well as her deeply held values, notably equal rights and empowerment for women. Morrison recognizes this, noting that “this music is about giving a voice to those who are not heard.” Her unguarded Americana flows in the same Southern Gothic vein as the work of Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, and Neko Case with significance placed on the lyrics supported by a crafted musical fabric.

Morrison’s relationship with making music is intuitive with no formal training besides what she learned through internalizing the classical music to which she once danced. Her fondness for journal writing began at age 13 and led to her English and Creative Writing majors at Salem College and later at Hollins University. “I wanted to be a novelist and worked on my novel for over a decade” Morrison reflects. “It’s had about 5 versions and now I think it was meant to be just one song”.

Morrison met her husband Ryan while he was earning his bachelor’s degree in classical guitar performance at UNC-School of the Arts. Her musical spark was ignited as they bonded over their love of authentic folk songs, singing and playing the songs of Hank Williams and Gillian Welch until the wee hours of the morning. Ryan initially served as a support system, both emotionally and musically, but as they continued to craft the songs he too fell in love with the music they were creating. His enthusiasm encouraged Morrison to pursue performing. On the couple’s 6th wedding anniversary, they discussed having another baby. This conversation led to Morrison’s epiphany that more than anything she needed to record the music they had been cultivating.

Within a week, Cashavelly and Ryan booked a session at the renowned Echo Mountain Studio in Asheville, NC, a studio repurposed from an old church. Recording with vintage equipment, the two delicately laid down their vocals and guitars, thinking this passion project would be exclusively for themselves. However, with the encouragement of their sound engineer, the experience quickly showed them that the songs deserved more instrumentation. After two more sessions, and the privilege of working with some of the most talented musicians in the area, they recognized the need and desire to share the music.

The resulting album encompasses the grief Morrison has endured while igniting compassion for the suffering of others experiencing social injustices. She presents her feelings in a tangibly emotional and intoxicating fashion, not only over her personal losses, but for those who have lost their children to police brutality and the 29 miners killed in her hometown in a methane explosion in 2010. As Morrison sees it, “exploring your grief can lead to empowerment with the ultimate empowerment being the freedom to speak these things through music”.

Ceramics by Halifax Artist Alexandra McCurdy at David Kaye Gallery - Toronto October 1 – 25 2015

From a media release:

Crossing Material Boundaries
October 1 – 25, 2015
Ceramics by Halifax Artist Alexandra McCurdy
at David Kaye Gallery - Toronto

Ceramic boxes stir curiosity, celebrate women’s roles
Nova Scotia ceramist merges ceramics and textiles to create cubic structures with hidden secrets

Halifax ceramist Alexandra McCurdy merges ceramics with textiles to create boxes filled with mystery as part of her new exhibition, Crossing Material Boundaries, running October 1 to 25 at David Kaye Gallery. The exhibit marks McCurdy’s recent induction into the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts after a 50-year career in ceramics.

Alexandra McCurdy, ceramist/printmaker/independent curator, works in porcelain making highly decorative, one-of-a-kind, colourful pieces, informed by her longstanding interest in textiles. This exhibition features a series of ceramic boxes made from tiles created out lines of coloured clay. The tiles are fired and wired together with decorative materials to create boxes that are a metaphor for women – using the feminine principal of containment and enclosure, with the inner workings left to the viewer’s imagination. Image: Black Box with Weaving (Porcelain, wire and beads as connectors - 11X11X11cm)

Crossing Material Boundaries features nine ceramic boxes made from layered lines of coloured clay, or slip, which simulate the warp and the weft of weaving. Seven of the boxes are accompanied by wall pieces that feature similar slip trailed tiles on top of silk-screened backdrops.

“Alexandra’s McCurdy’s containers merge the techniques of textiles and clay, decorative surface and form. We are delighted to bring her boxes to Toronto to celebrate her recent induction to the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts,” said David Kaye, owner of the David Kaye Gallery.

For the boxes, McCurdy wires the ‘woven’ tiles together and embellishes them with coloured computer wire, metallic thread, raffia or other textile symbols such as the spiral, used by women over the centuries.

“The simulation of weaving is another way to celebrate women’s work over the centuries,” said McCurdy. “In these boxes I have deliberately left the ‘inner workings’ to the viewer’s imagination, embellishing the external in an ambiguous way and deliberately leaving the inner workings of the boxes to the viewer’s imagination.”

For most of her professional life as a ceramist, McCurdy has painstakingly created containers decorated with textile and fibre motifs. Mi’kmaq quill boxes, quilts, and hooked rugs which have supplied a rich source of decoration. Transplanting textiles to clay is one way for McCurdy to tell her story – maintaining the illusion of the decorative while pursuing control. Image: Blue Box with Herringbone (Porcelain, wire and beads as connector - 13X13X13cm)

McCurdy explains that the boxes have been compared to Japanese teahouses, Catholic confessionals and Muslim women’s burkas. They intentionally use the feminine principle of containment and enclosure, and are intended as a metaphor for women – decorative on the outside, with substance and secrets hidden within. The boxes also connect conceptually to the hidden potential of Pandora’s Box, the black box of an aircraft – influenced by McCurdy’s pilot father, who was shot down during World War II – and the Perspective Box by Dutch artist Samuel van Hoogstraten.

“I’m combining techniques used in ceramics and textiles to create vessels that push the envelope of traditional ceramics. They challenge the notion that ceramic pieces must always be functional. At the same time, they awaken the viewer’s curiosity. They invite the viewer to wonder ‘what’s inside the box?’”

In recent years, McCurdy has explored the connections between women and craft. Women have traditionally done crafts for functional, practical reasons. The fragmented nature of women’s lives has influenced their technique – forcing them to work in portable components, just like the panels in McCurdy’s boxes.

“Over the years, women have traditionally been responsible for many roles – taking care of children, cooking, homemaking.  Component making is often the solution for women artists whose lives are fragmented with children, homemaking and other jobs. It’s a way to work for short periods of time, in between other duties.” Image: Blue Box with Copper Wire (Porcelain, wire and beads as connectors, copper wire - 13X13X13cm)

Images of Alexandra's work by Steve Farmer.

David Kaye Gallery is located at 1092 Queen Street West. For more information about the exhibition, please visit www.davidkayegallery.com.

Alexandra McCurdy (www.amccurdyceramics.com) is a professional ceramist and independent curator living in Halifax, NS and Naples, Florida.

Adult Contemporary EP Release: Kimia Penton - Lessons from Life and Love (Independent - October 16, 2015)

EP Release: Kimia Penton - Lessons from Life and Love
(Independent - October 16, 2015)

Stream the EP on Soundcloud

Born in the Middle East, raised in the U.K. and now based in Dallas, Kimia Penton brings a world of influences to her latest release, Lessons from Life and Love (Independent - October 16, 2015). With a fluid vocal style that sounds easy and effortless (but is surely anything but) and is rich in tone and nuance, there are shades of Middle Eastern vocal stylings in the melody and harmonic structure - all disguised as jazzy adult contemporary pop. A very polished singer with a wide range of tone and expression, the songs rightfully focus on her strong vocals backed up by solid musical accompaniment.

Each track offers something different stylistically, with enough variation in rhythm, mood and tone to avoid the all too typical singer songwriter monotony. Kimia on violin adds a welcome texture to the usual mix of piano, guitar, drums and bass.

The lyrics - not surprisingly - cover love and human relationships with a level of insight that you'd expect from a singer who is also a psychologist. From Pieces,

You played your part with perfection
I saw the reflection
Of everything I thought I needed

Crossroads is a classic love lost ballad that combines a slow country-ish waltz measure with a jazzy harmonic feel. Kimia's violin is showcased on My Kind of Love, giving the track a nicely gypsy jazz groove. The last track - Start Again - covers more typical singer songwriter territory with acoustic guitar and piano to which she adds interesting vocal phrasing.

Kimia recently had the opportunity to travel to India to write and produce music with some local artists there, and will be releasing a world genre album and an electronic music album in 2016 as a result of those collaborations.

Kimia Penton - vocals, violin, songwriting; Wes Stephenson – bass; Leslie Williams Blum – piano; Kelyn Crapp – guitar; Francis Moka - percussion.

1. My Kind of Love
2. The Door
3. Pieces
4. Crossroads
5. Start Again
6. Memories of you

Monday, September 21, 2015

Heat up the Winter Doldrums with the 1st Annual Montreal Bachata & Kizomba Festival March 24 - 28 2016

With material from a media release:

Êtes-Vous Prêt? - Are You Ready? ‪#‎MontrealBachataFestival‬ ‪#‎MBF2016‬

Heat up the Winter Doldrums with the 1st Annual Montreal Bachata & Kizomba Festival
March 24, 2016 - March 28, 2016
Hôtel Bonaventure Montréal

• Tickets Available at www.MontrealBachataFestival.com
Like the Facebook page for Updates

I know... it's not even New Year's yet, but dreary old March - when winter's hanging on by the skin it its teeth and making us all crazy - is when you'll need a jolt of energy to pick you up. There are few better ways to add heat to your environment than with Bachata and Kizomba - hot Latin dances.

You'll be joining 5000+ of dancers from around the world as they make their way to Montreal, Canada. This 4 day International Latin Dance Festival is hosted at the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Montreal. Enjoy live shows, concerts, workshops, social dancing until 4:00 AM.

First - what is salsa, bachata, merengue, kizomba...?  This video should help:

Exclusive Hotel Booking!

The festival will be hosted at the Hotel Bonaventure Montreal which is located in downtown Montreal at 900 de La Gauchetiere West, Montreal, Quebec H5A 1E4. Everything will take place at the hotel including workshops, pool party, shows, concerts & social dancing.

• The rates below are exclusive to the Montreal Bachata & Kizomba Festival and can only be booked through our website.
• Special Rate: $179/ Night. Regular Rate: $249/Night
• Do not call the hotel or book on their website. The hotel staff is unaware of this offer!

Some of the Festival highlights:

- 5000+ of the best Latin dancers, instructors & performers
- 2 Massive dance rooms with social dancing until 4 AM
- The world's best Latin DJ's playing Bachata, Salsa & Kizomba
- Over 30 workshops, 60 instructors, and 80 performances
- 4 Days of entertainment, theme parties and fun activities
- Nightly Entertainment, dance competitions, and city wide tours

Just More Fun. In Montreal

Mix-N-Mingle Socials
Attending the festival means you get to meet 1000's of new people through our organized parties and networking socials.
The Hottest Pool Party
We're hosting the hottest pool party ever with our outdoor heated pool. Enjoy swimming and dancing to a live DJ.
City Wide Adventure Tours
Explore Montreal with our organized city wide adventure tours. Visit top attractions, restaurants and shopping centres.

Bienvenue au tout PREMIER Montreal Bachata & Kizomba Festival. Rejoignez des milliers de danseurs de partout au monde qui feront le pèlerinage vers Montréal pour ce festival international de danse latine de 4 jours. Tenu dans un hôtel de classe mondiale au centre-ville de Montréal, vous pourrez profiter des spectacles « live », de magnifiques prestations, de fantastique musique et de danse sociale jusqu’à 4h00!

Le site web officiel: www.MontrealBachataFestival.com/fr/

Détails et caractéristiques:
- Plus de 5000+ des meilleurs danseurs, artistes et professeurs de danse latine
- 4 jours de divertissements, de danse et d’activités sociales
- 2 énormes salles de danse offrant de la danse sociale jusqu’à 4h00
- Des milliers des meilleurs danseurs, enseignants et artistes
- Plus de 30 ateliers, 60 enseignants et 80 prestations
- Les meilleurs DJs jouant de la bachata, de la kizomba et de la salsa

On s'Amuse Toujours Plus...

Soirées et Activités Sociales
Vous aurez l'occasion de faire plein de nouvelles rencontres dans le cadre de nos soirées et activités sociales.
Le Party de Piscine le Plus Torride
Préparez-vous au party de piscine le plus torride dans notre piscine extérieure chauffée. Un de nos DJ sera sur place pour vous faire danser.
Excursions Urbaines
Nos excusions urbaines organisées vous permettront d'explorer Montréal. Visitez les attractions principales, les restaurants et les centres d'achats.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

CD Release: Space Apaches: Smokin’ Voyages Artists International Inc. - October 9, 2015

CD Release:
Space Apaches: Smokin’ Voyages
Artists International Inc. - October 9, 2015
Singles: Smile 8/26/15 & In My Mind 9/16/15

Buy the CD

Asheville, North Carolina's Space Apaches are a bunch of accomplished session guys whose primary goal is recording. In Smokin' Voyages, they've put together an enjoyable collection of fourteen tracks that include mostly originals with covers of “I Am the Six O’Clock New” by Larry Norman, “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” by Mickey Newbury and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” by Stan Jones.

The result is a trippy, psychadelic/classic rock/country rock kind of a mash-up lit up by their collective energy and some great playing chops. Entry begins the journey with the sound of a spaceship landing that slides into the solid rock groove of Sunrise, featuring a nice fat B3 and lyrics like,

Hey baby it's your time
It's your mind
It's your sunrise....

It comes complete with wailing guitar lines and bombastic drumming and a vocalist with a nice feel for the rock range from edgy to growly to urgent and back again.

Obviously influenced by the neo-1970's thing that's happening right now, the band hits all the right notes with panache. In My Mind is a classic rock churner with shades of a country rock rhythm, an element echoed in I'm On My Way. Empty is a swingy rock ballad that builds to a nice climax. Desert Life is anchored by a hypnotic guitar and drum pattern and complex rhythms, with an ethereal electronic piano line that floats above the mix. Smile is a Santana-esque smoker done just right.

The cover of Just Dropped In... gets a full on 70's treatment complete with a girl chorus but I find the vocals a little too careful - not nearly as passionate as the music. The band gives Ghost Riders in the Sky a lush treatment, heavy on atmospheric piano work.

Maybe is the only track to stand out stylistically - a more radio-friendly entry with a pleasant piano solo and anthemic refrain.

Worth a listen and more if you're into the neo-1970's scene.

Members/Instruments: Drums: Jim Arrendell, Bass: Rob Geisler, Key/Piano/Guitar: Aaron Price, Guitar: Andrew Reed, Guitar: Tom Leiner

All songs written by Andrew Reed except “I Am the Six O’Clock New” by Larry Norman, “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” by Mickey Newbury and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” by Stan Jones.

1. Entry
2. Sunrise
3. In My Mind
4. Empty
5. Desert Life
6. I Am the Six O’Clock News
7. Breakin’ the Ice
8. Smile
9. Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
10. I’m on My Way to Feeling Fine
11. A Song for the Rest of My Life
12. Love Should Come Easy
13. Maybe
14. Ghost Riders in the Sky

Space Apaches Website: www.spaceapaches.com
Space Apaches YouTube Channel:
Space Apaches SoundCloud Channel: https://soundcloud.com/space-apaches
Facebook Space Apaches:
Twitter: @spaceapaches
Instagram: https://instagram.com/spaceapaches/

Friday, September 18, 2015

Chef Daniel Boulud unveils the new Café Boulud at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto

From a media release:

The new Café Boulud is now open
a modern brasserie with a soulful French menu
Chef Daniel Boulud unveils the new restaurant
at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto

TORONTO, ON (Sept 17, 2015) — Four Seasons Hotel has opened the doors to the new Café Boulud, located in the flagship Toronto location at 60 Yorkville Ave. In the heart of Yorkville, the new restaurant features a stylish redesign imagined by award-winning designer Martin Brudnizki and a French menu created in collaboration by Chef Daniel Boulud and Chef de Cuisine Sylvain Assié.

The heart of the menu is traditionally French, offering dishes that both Chef Boulud and Chef Assié grew up with in the countryside of France, such as Quenelle de Brochet ($29), enveloped northern pike with cognac Nova Scotia lobster sauce, and Boudin Blanc ($24), white sausage, caramelized onions, apple, and mashed potatoes, and a Blanquette au Vert ($29).

Rotisserie is a star of the menu, with chicken, lamb, lobster, potatoes and even pineapple, cooking over the open flames of a top-of-the-line Rotisol, made in the largest and oldest rotisserie factory in France. (Poulet à la Broche rotisserie pictured above)

Seafood, including a Plateau De Fruits De Mer ($65) featuring oysters, shrimp, clams, mussels and tuna tartare, is sourced from the country’s two coasts whenever possible and will rotate on the menu according to the season. The restaurant continues its emphasis on charcuterie, a program led by master Charcutier Gilles Verot, and introduces a selection of housemade terrines and pâtés.

Famous favourites, such as the Frenchie Burger ($24) and Beignets de Calamar ($18), beer battered calamari, pickled hot pepper, anchor the menu. The wide range of cocktails include the likes of Aviation ($15), gin, lemon, crème Yvette, maraschino, and Led Zeppelin ($15), tequila, amaro nonino, aperol, lime. Desserts, such as the show-stopping Soufflé Grand Marnier ($14) made from orange crème anglaise and the equally indulgent Coulant Au Chocolat ($14), offer guests the opportunity to truly treat themselves.

“This menu is without a doubt very French in its DNA. But we are also in Canada, and we celebrate its ingredients in our dishes. I’m French, but I’m not the most traditional French chef. I have traveled, and worked with many great international chefs, and so that influence has naturally worked its way into my food,” said Chef Daniel Boulud. “There’s a delicately spicy, aromatic Bouillion Pho from Vietnam and the Sea Bass Catalane made with romesco sauce that is a nod to Spain. This is the food that I like to eat, and I hope that Sylvain and I have created a menu that people want to come back to enjoy again and again.”

Transforming the interior, Martin Brudnizki Design Studio gave the French brasserie a classic, midcentury look with a contemporary twist. Interior architect Brudnizki, known for bringing a lived-in luxury to his projects, introduced a warm palette and comfortable, luxe furnishings to evoke a certain playfulness as well as elegance to the space, ideally suited to the sophistication of Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.

Ribbed banquets upholstered in jaguar green and tan leather with tweed detailing and 1950s-shaped chairs in an opulent oxblood ruched leather invite guests to stay, relax and have a great conversation. The walls are decorated in blue herringbone Hermès wallpaper and finished in walnut work, while further accents of colour can be found in corner tables, made from an emerald green lava stone. Refreshingly bright and airy in the daytime, in the evening the restaurant is gently illuminated with a line of 14 bespoke double pendant lights that run through the center of the room, taking inspiration from mid-century design maestro, Angelo Lelli - the brass adding an understated glamour.

A focal point of the room is the intimate dining counter, constructed in wood panels painted in a high gloss lacquer and topped with Calacatta marble featuring a bronze and glass gantry, and eight oxblood leather bar stools.

“There is something strong yet simple about mid-century design that creates harmony in an interior and we wanted to build on this balance with Café Boulud,” said interior architect Martin Brudnizki. “The end result is an abstraction of mid-century design principles, as each element evokes the period, but takes on a contemporary element, to ensure the interior exudes an elevated sense of intrigue and quality.”

The new Café Boulud is open daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Reservations can be made at cafeboulud.com or by calling 416.963.6000.

Website: www.cafeboulud.com
Twitter: @CafeBouludTO
Instagram: CafeBouludTO
Facebook: CafeBouludTO
Hashtag: #thenewboulud

About Café Boulud and d|bar:
Located at the flagship Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, Café Boulud, by Chef Daniel Boulud, serves a soulful menu deeply rooted in French tradition. The playfully retro-modern restaurant designed by Martin Brudnizki, located in the iconic Yorkville neighbourhood and steps from the Mink Mile shopping district is suspended above the street level and includes a dining counter and private dining room for up to eight guests. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Right below the café is d|bar, the lively lounge serving an array of lunchtime favourites, bar-friendly fare, and a large variety of uniquely mixed cocktails with a dj playing in the late evening.

New York Travel Tip: JFK Shuttle Blues - or how I learned to embrace uncertainty and love the Big Blue Van

New York Travel Tip:
JFK Airport Shuttle Blues
Or how I learned to embrace uncertainty and love the Big Blue Van

To truly travel on the cheap, you need to cut costs at every turn.

I'm a longtime freelance writer based near Toronto and a frequent visitor to New York City. If you've ever tried to live on the earnings of the former and are familiar with the costs of staying in the latter, you'll know these assertions border on the mutually exclusive. But, poverty is the mother of many an invention and I've figured out how to save on exorbitant hotel bills by staying in apartments, which also cuts down on eating out.

Airport transfers are another matter - and one that annoyingly adds $100-200 to the cost of any trip. The hike to and from JFK to Manhattan (LaGuardia - please!) can be pricey by taxi and even more so by limo and a train plus long subway ride to my eventual destination in upper Harlem with luggage and laptop in tow is just too daunting a prospect.

Luckily, one of those friendly people at the ground transportation information counter turned me on to the Big Blue Van method instead.

What is the Big Blue Van?
Ah... this is something of an existential question. On the face of it, it is just that - a full sized blue van that roams the airport terminals picking up passengers until full - or up to 10 to 12 people including the driver - then to proceed on to The City. It's about half the price of fixed rate cab fare. It is also - depending on your frame of mind and agenda for the day:

  • a hellish and endless journey through the nine circles of NYC traffic hell or;
  • a zen-like odyssey through the nooks and crannies of Manhattan. All of them.

Surviving the Big Blue Van Experience
I'm cheap, so I've been using it regularly for some time and have become something of an expert in how to navigate the mysterious vagaries of the van system of ferrying passengers between the city and the airports. Having witnessed confusion and consternation on the part of both native New Yorkers and visitors to town alike on using the system for the first time, I'd like to offer a few practical tips.

  1. Dress warmly, even if it's hot outside. The drivers like it cold in The Van.
  2. When you book, they will allow a 20 minute window for pick-up. In reality, be ready at least 10 minutes before... and prepared to wait up to ten minutes after.
  3. Do not ask the driver how long it will be. He will always say 45 minutes. That's roughly the time it would take to get from JFK to the Manhattan city limits if there was no traffic on the Van Wyck. Ha ha ha. In reality, he does not know. No one knows. It is an unknowable truth, An Enigma. Yet, you demand an answer... so he says "45 minutes."
  4. In truth, if you are one of the first lucky passengers on the van, you may spend the first 45 minutes driving around to all the gates of JFK before you even get to the Van Wyck (and that's before you hit the nine gates of traffic hell, mind you).
  5. Do not ask the driver if you will be next one let off. You may, for example, naïvely assume that if you're already on 49th, it's not much of a hike over to 52nd and your hotel. Your driver may mutter something about entering the city on the east side - or not. If you press him, there will be some sort of explanation that involves the east side and the west side. I believe it may actually have something to do with the phases of the moon. You will not be next. And it is another one of The Mysteries. 

On the plus side:

  • You will see parts of The City that you never knew existed.
  • You will see much of Queens, including what seems to be endless sections of narrow streets lined with small warehouses.
  • You will know what they mean when people talk about "New York drivers" first hand - and if you're in the front seat, very first hand.

At worst, I've spent close to 4 hours in The Van on a day when President Obama came to town to screw up the traffic even more than usual. Once I narrowly avoided missing a flight because the driver forgot a passenger and had to backtrack 80 blocks in town... late in the afternoon on the Friday of a long weekend.

But it's cheap.

I have heard rumours of a White Van that picks up even more passengers and is a few bucks cheaper...

But I don't know if I'm quite ready for that much zen.

All images of NYC by me.

British Folk Rock CD Release: Tumbler - You said (Independent - 14 September 2015)

With material from a media release:

CD Release:
Tumbler - You said
(Independent -  14 September 2015)

Buy the CD

There's a whole story that goes along with this CD, beginning with Richard Grace, whose musical journey included time on the road in a band with his brother and two marriages which produced six children, four of whom play guitar just like Dad. All six kids grew up close, ex-wives became friends, and the music continued in crowded kitchen concerts where guitars were everywhere and everyone knew the chords.

The new CD is largely the work of Richard and Harry, son number five, recorded at Dark Horse Studios - a tiny studio run by Dave Needham out of a shed that was once an old stable block in Epsom, England. Dave has also worked with British artists like David Essex.

The album is a collection of folky tracks with a little rock, a little country and a little blues thrown into the mix. Moments begins with South American rhythms that morph into an upbeat pop tune with an infectious melody. Don't Think Twice adds a nod to classic 60's pop with a singsong approach that wears a little thin by the end of the song.

Lyrics are inventive and often ironic and subtly funny, as in London Girl,

My London girl
Despite it all
Believes we're still

In businessman Blues, the cultured vocals come as a contrasting counterpoint to the bluesy rock vibe, while Sleepy bananas are cool is a trippy folk waltz. Many of the songs - like Dennis and Jean - are deceptively simple, yet layered musically.

From Bueller:

You said I’m filling you up 
Like I was running a bath and broken the tap 
And it’s pouring in over porcelain skin 
And my orange tiger stripes give me 180 lines 
Mix on my cleftal palette 

Break or Fall is the more radio-friendly single, showing a nice rhythmic drive and complexity and also vocal range from softly melodic to rough and urgent. Along with the song Bueller, it stands in contrast to the other tracks in the sense of urgency and real emotion you can hear in the vocals. There's drama where the vocals of the other tracks are slightly overly careful renditions of the various styles - like they said, hey let's do a country duet (Call Me Sentimental) - let's do a gospel folk tune... (Flowers and miracles) and so on.

It might have been a tighter release to cut the number of tracks as a more coherent release stylistically, but it's got a lot of good music to be mined out of the CD as is.

Members/Instruments: Richard Grace, Dave Needham, Harry Grace
Website: Tumblermusic.com

1) Moments (she reappears)
2) Don’t think twice (she says)
3) London girl
4) Businessman blues
5) Sleepy bananas are cool
6) Dennis and Jean
7) Bueller
8) Break or fall
9) Call me sentimental
10) Dead man’s bones
11) Flowers and miracles
12) Rowan tree

Friday, September 11, 2015

CD Release & European Live Dates: Rupa & The April Fishes - Oval (Electric Gumbo Radio Music - September 4, 2015)

From a release:

CD Release:

Rupa & The April Fishes - Oval
(Electric Gumbo Radio Music - September 4, 2015)

European Live Dates Coming Up:
Sep 16 - Moods - Zürich, Switzerland
Sep 17 - Jazzhaus - Freiburg, Germany
Sep 20 - Werner Richard Saal Meister Aus Aller Welt - Herdecke, Germany
Sep 21 - The Jazz Cafe - London, UK

Buy the CD on iTunes

A sound that is as difficult to define as life is to confine, the music of Rupa & the April Fishes pulls from eight years of street parties, festivals and symphonic concerts on three continents, three studio albums, one live album and one string quartet recording in the making, several languages from English to Tzotzil to French, many musical traditions, countless moments of joy, sorrow, loss, and transformation and a fierce independent spirit.

From the exquisitely sensitive engineering by Adam Munoz at Fantasy Studios, to the longterm partnership with producer and bassist Todd Sickafoose to the impeccable arrangements by composer Mark Orton to the fiery renditions played by Quartet San Francisco to the incredible lineup on the album which includes drummer Allison Miller, guitarist Adam Levy, saxophonist Prasant Radhakrishnan, accordionist Rob Reich and the one-and-only clarinetist Ben Goldberg--this album is a serious audio treat.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Review: bitter's kiss - Bitter's Kiss (Independent - March 31, 2015)

With material from a release:

bitter's kiss - Bitter's Kiss
(Independent - March 31, 2015)

Buy the CD on iTunes

bitter's kiss is the brainchild and vehicle for singer/songwriter Chloe Baker, currently a student at High Tech, an arts academy in North Bergen, NJ. She's been writing songs for about a year and was aided in this recording effort by her dad, who runs a studio (handy!) and has been active in musical theater for years.

The album is - rightly - dominated by her distinctive vocals - a little girl voice with a lovely and expressive range. In shines in tracks like Love Won't Make You Cry accompanied by spindly guitar lines and piano with a vintage feel. Her voice has a sweet quality in the higher register.

The Rope, the first single, is the strongest track, a song inspired by the suicide of a distant cousin. Chloe's voice is mournful against moody cello lines as she sings,

Who are you trying to impress when you pray?
Are you asking why it hurts when you smile?
Are you thankful for the pain?

The effect is hypnotic and quite gripping.

She seems to have a slight predilection for 3/4 time, as in Waste of It All - a track something like a country waltz played after drinking absinthe with Toulouse Latrec in a Paris cafe... No One Will has an upbeat feel with nihilistic lyrics like, No one will ever kiss me.

Bitter's Kiss, the title track, is radio-friendly pop rock, like Too Far Too Fast, a swingy tune that tips the hat to the simpler riffs of classic vintage pop with a rhythmic complexity that contrasts her ethereal vocal delivery.

The danger of focusing an album on a voice is a tendency to monotony, one subverted here with a nice range of musical diversity in terms of style and a voice that is fluid enough to express a range of emotions.

Members/Instruments:  Chloe Baker (vocals/guitar/piano), Michael Baker (guitar/piano/bass/drums)

1. Bitter's Kiss
2. Waste of it All
3. Love Won't Make You Cry
4. No One Will
5. The Rope
6. Lovin' Life
7. Already Gone
8. Too Far Too Fast


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

FREE Download: Two new singles from Marc Meriläinen (Released September 1 2015)

From a media release:

FREE Download:
Two new singles from Marc Meriläinen
September 1, 2015

Free Download link here  

Marc sent his fans a quick note note on September 1, 2015 to let everyone now about the release of 2 NEW singles.

The creator of the multi-award nominated NADJIWAN project has come full circle with his new musical direction. From a Finnish and Ojibway background, Marc has tried to embrace both culturally and musically. This new project incorporates the best of both worlds sonically and musically. Marc uses traditional Finnish folk guitar tunings and instruments like the kantele and the jouhikko alongside modern beats and Aboriginal style vocables combined with Finnish lyrics. This is a unique style and tone that cannot be heard anywhere else. Over the past 15 years, Marc has performed across Canada and the United States at various festivals, venues and events including the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C.

From Marc: 

One if from my NADJIWAN First Nations music project - the single All Those Years

& the other from my Finnish project Nordic Sound System. 

Both are now available for FREE from Heading North Music.  

We wanted to say 'Thank You' for your support all of these years.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

CD Review: Singer Songwriter Elessar Thiessen: A Rainy Week in Paradise (Independent - June 10, 2015)

With material from a media release:

CD Review: 
Elessar Thiessen: A Rainy Week in Paradise
(Independent - June 10, 2015)

Buy the CD from iTunes

A Rainy Week in Paradise is the fourth - and first full-length - release from this Winnipeg based singer/songwriter and a strong entry into what is admittedly a crowded field.

Elassar is said to have been drawn to study music during those long Canadian (Winnipeg!) winters and bought his first guitar at the tender age of 8. The lyrics cover personal territory - longing, angst, hope and love and all that. Musically, he covers ground from pop to soft rock to jazzy adult contemporary and touches down on traditional blues too for a nicely diverse range. He's a full-time independent producer as well as a musician, accounting for the lovely, clean sound on the recording. You can listen to some of Elessar’s work at this link.

Another Love Song leaves the focus on his nimble voice and an unabashedly romantic sentiment with a standard pop feel that veers into vintage jazz territory. I Need a Woman is rhythmic and showcases his languid vocal delivery with jazzy chord changes. There's a distinct flavour of rnb in many of the songs and an uptempo, radio-friendly pop/rock vibe to tracks like I Don't Wanna Go and A Rainy Week in Paradise, the title track.

The intensely personal inspiration comes through in some of the songs - like Sister, a ballad ode to a sibling who's leaving home. Without Him is a melancholy ballad with a torchy kind of feel and lyrics that touch on existential angst.

You Girl, a duet with Alexa Dirks and her sultry vocals, is a high note of the album - a slow, sexy and bluesy tune complete with churchy organ riffs and a stuttering drum line.

It's a thoughtful album that should please fans of the singer songwriter genre.

Members/Instruments: (For the album)
Cam Friesen - Drums, Percussion; Brody Britton - Percussion; David Landreth - Bass; Jordan Jackiew - Organ/Piano on Track 5; Alexa Dirks - Vocals on Track 5; Catherine Wylee - Supporting Vocals on Track 3; Elessar Thiessen - Vocals, Guitar, Organ, Piano, Programming

1. Another Love Song
2. I Need a Woman
3. Lover Dear
4. I Don’t Wanna Go
5. You Girl (feat. Alexa Dirks)
6. When the World Ends
7. Without Him
8. Truth
9. A Rainy Week in Paradise
10. Sister
11. The Perfect Bloom


Monday, September 7, 2015

Jazz/Fusion Upcoming Release: NYC's Gideon King & City Blog - City Blog (Independent - September 26, 2015)

With material from a release:

Upcoming Release: 
Gideon King & City Blog - City Blog
(Independent - September 26, 2015)

Preorder/Buy the CD from Amazon

Gideon King & City Blog is a musical collective rife with talent, including well known artists like vocalist Marc Broussard. If you like your jazz rock fusion on the virtuosic side but with an easy edge, you'll love this release.

New York City based composer, guitar player, and producer Gideon King draws from a number of styles including jazz, funk, pop and rock on his latest release. City Blog comes from a vow to create the best studio band on earth, with Gideon on lead electric, acoustic, and synth guitars on
all the songs, supported by a stellar cast of artists.

He's assembled the accomplished musicians you need to take you on this kind of trip. There are not one but two bass players; among them, James Genus, who plays with Herbie Hancock and Daft Punk - and also the SNL house band on TV. Matt Penman plays upright on the song Glide. Vocalist Carolyn Leonhart is a regular contributor to Steely Dan recordings.

The title track epitomizes the feel of the whole CD - jazzy, urbane, it grooves to fluid art guitar solos and syncopated rhythms in a lush mix. Elliott Skinner's wistful vocals cover the usual territory of love and relationships in laidback style. Seeing in Double, in contrast, is slow and sexy, lit up by a nice horn solo.

Lyrically, the songs are sophisticated, sometimes ironic. You'll hear flashes of old school RnB, jazz, shades of Latin rhythms and even country simplicity here and there. Down, with vocals by Marc Broussard, is a highlight, featuring a silvery piano solo that showcases the release's lovely production. There's a classic RnB fluidity to the melody and vocal style, and a bittersweet lament in the words...

Keep an open mind? 
I don't think so...
The music of today is like a cloud that covers the earth;
The music of today is like a child that says, 'I'm first!'

On New York Is, the lyrics spell out what so many of us feel about the city. It's a love song with a punch line:

New York is perfect... now and then

Likewise, Friendship Cliché has an Afrojazz feel that wraps itself around the sentiment,

I know you'll call me once a year...

What Say You? stands out as an anomaly - a straight up ballad with a classic kind of mournful swing to it, sung by Grace Weber. She also takes up the vocals on Glide, a track with a country groove that meshes with jazzy harmonies.

Sophisticated and very contemporary, City Blog has enough musical variety, clever lyrics and great licks to make it a fixture on your playlist.

Lead Electric, acoustic, and synth guitars: Gideon King; Electric and upright bass: James Genus; Upright Bass: Matt Penman; Piano: Kevin Hays; Drums: Willard Dyson; Drums: Donald Edwards; Saxophone and Flute: Donny Mccaslin; Trumpet: Andy Gravish; Vocals: Grace Weber (What Say You and Glide,) Marc Broussard (Down and New York Is,) Elliott Skinner (Dirty Bastard and lead on City blog,) Saul Kurtz (See In Double and back up on City Blog,) Carolyn Leonhart (lead and background,) Gideon King; Background Vocals: Carolyn Leonhart, Grace Weber, Matt Powell, Gideon King, and Elliott Skinner; Various noises: Gideon King

1. City Blog
2. See In Double
3. Down
4. Friendship Cliché
5. What Say You
6. Glide
7. Dirty Bastard
8. Just Play
9. Broken Noise


Review: Luca Bash - EP: The Single Drops (Independent - May 18th 2015)

With material from a release:

Luca Bash - EP: The Single Drops
(Independent - May 18th 2015)

Download the CD

The Single Drops is the latest in a series of releases from the Italian duo of Luca Bash and Giova Pes.

Luca Bash is a long time fixture of the Italian folk/pop scene and his latest incarnation came after a chance reunion with guitarist Giova Pes, a fellow member of the now defunct group Bash, not long ago. Once they got together again however, the music started to flow and they came up with a concept that saw four releases in 2014 - the CMYK project. The releases - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key Black - were named after the pigments in a printer with the concept that from those four colours, all images are created.

The Single Drops continues the musical journey of the Rome-based duo. The Single Drops features a track from each of the CMYK EP's as well as a new song, Your Tomorrow and the series is garnering a fair amount of attention on the European side of the Atlantic.

Your Tomorrow, the new single, takes advantage of Luca's deep, rich vocal style with shimmering guitar lines as accompaniment. It covers typical territory for folk music lyrically - a combination of philosophy and street poetry, not overly flowery but expressive. The song builds in urgency, with a moody, wistful tone overall that suits the idiom.

Forever Asleep picks up the tempo with an eclectic rhythm lit up by his idiosyncratic - even theatrical - vocal delivery. Giova's lead guitar work is impressively fluid and adept, adding texture and depth to the usual singer songwriter fare. Bash is strongest when he lets that fluid, highly individual style come to the forefront both in his singing and lyric writing.

Dear John features a compelling melody that gradually ramps up the energy. Little Tale and Black Swan's Walk both have more of the feel of traditional folk music in terms of song structure and anthemic refrains. Overall, The Single Drops avoids the kind of self indulgent monotony that can overtake many a singer songwriter with the addition of lead guitar that verges on jazzy virtuosity along with a nice sense for rhythmic variation.

A nice sense of invention elevates this release well above the crowded singer songwriter pool.

Members/Instruments: Acoustic, Guitar Duo, Rhythm guitar & Vocal: Luca Bash, Lead Guitar: Giova Pes

1.    Your Tomorrow
2.    Forever Like Asleep
3.    Dear John
4.    Little Tale
5.    Black Swans Walls


Friday, September 4, 2015

imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival October 14-18 2015 in Toronto

From a media release:

imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival
October 14-18, 2015
Presenting Sponsor: Bell Media
Opening and Closing Night Films 
Mekko and Fire Song
Plus - International Spotlight: Sámpi Nation • Artist Spotlight: Heather Rae

TORONTO - The 16th Annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is proud to announce the Opening and Closing Galas for the Festival, running October 14-18, 2015, plus this year's International Spotlight, and the inaugural imagineNATIVE Artist Spotlight, acknowledging Indigenous creative leaders.

imagineNATIVE's Opening Night Gala on Wednesday, October 14 at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema will be Sterlin Harjo's Mekko, starring Rod Rondeaux and Sarah Podemski. Mekko is a thriller following a man who must navigate a welcoming, yet dangerous, community of Native Americans living on the streets, after release from his 20-year prison sentence. Prior to Mekko, imagineNATIVE will present the Festival Premiere of Jeff Barnaby's experimental short film Etlinisigu'niet (Bleed Down).

The Closing Night Gala will be Fire Song by Cree/Métis filmmaker Adam Garnet Jones, on Sunday, October 18 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Fire Song is a powerful, dramatic feature film, starring Andrew Martin and Jennifer Podemski, about a young gay man who dreams of leaving his reserve for the city. When the world as he knows it falls apart, the future he's been dreaming of seems impossible to reach.

The 2015 International Spotlight will focus on Sámi films and filmmakers of the Sápmi nation, the Indigenous people of Norway, Sweden, Finland and northwestern Russia. Proud reindeer herders, the Sámi have a rich tradition as artists and filmmakers, which has seen a boom in the last five years. As part of the Spotlight on Sápmi, imagineNATIVE will present two shorts programs, Nils Gaup's Academy-Award nominated Pathfinder, and indigiTALKS: Our Stories Must Be Heard, a video-essay series introducing the world of Sámi cinema from stereotypical depictions in mainstream film, to the International Sámi Film Institute which funds contemporary Sámi features and TV series.

imagineNATIVE is happy to announce the inaugural Artist Spotlight, which will celebrate the work of Cherokee filmmaker Heather Rae. This annual Artist Spotlight will acknowledge Indigenous creative leaders whose work has broken new ground and created lasting contributions to the Indigenous media arts. Heather Rae will be in attendance as imagineNATIVE screens three of her films, Trudell, Wild Walkers, and the two-time Academy Award-nominated Frozen River, that will be followed by a tribute to the late actress Misty Upham, co-star of Frozen River.

The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is the world’s largest Indigenous festival showcasing innovation in film, video, audio and digital media. The Festival presents the most compelling and distinctive works from Canada and around the globe, reflecting the diversity of the world’s Indigenous nations and illustrating the vitality and excellence of Native art and culture in contemporary media.

The 16th annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival will be held in Toronto October 14-18, 2015.

Early Bird Ticket Packages and Delegate Passes are now on sale for a limited time
For more information please call 416.585.2333 or visit www.imagineNATIVE.org
facebook/imagineNATIVE / @imagineNATIVE

imagineNATIVE is proud to introduce the Support an Artist Program, which aims to bring as many Indigenous artists as possible to this year’s Festival by subsidizing travel costs. Attending imagineNATIVE can dramatically enhance the professional and artistic development of artists at all levels of their career. Donations can be made here: www.canadahelps.org/dn/8433

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Roots Reggae: High Hopes Band, Treehouse! and Kiwi in New York City September 16 & 18 2015

From a media release:

High Hopes Band w/ Treehouse! - American Roots Reggae Triple Header; High Hopes Band, Treehouse!, & Kiwi in Harlem Sept. 16th
Modern American Roots Reggae Triple Bill: Boston's High Hopes Band alongside Myrtle Beach's Treehouse! and New Jersey's Kiwi group on tour

• September 16, 2015 at Silvana's Harlem (305 W116th)
• September 18, 2015 at Fontana's NYC (105 Eldridge Street)

NEW YORK CITY - The High Hopes Band, New England’s premiere modern roots reggae band, is pleased to announce their 2015 East Coast “Forever Love” Tour in support of their Forever Love album release.  Voted as 2015’s Best in State of Massachusetts, by the New England Music Awards (NEMA) in April of this year, the High Hopes Band brings their unique sound and experience on the road in the continental U.S.  Known in the U.S. Virgin Islands for their tireless shows and schedules, they hope to add to their already quickly grown nationwide fan base.

The High Hopes Band band released their self entitled EP in 2013.  In September of 2014, they dropped their debut album “Forever Love,” spending 2 weeks in the Itunes top 100 all-time reggae albums chart, reaching as high as 30.  All recorded work can be heard on the majority of streaming music services in the industry, including Spotify & Pandora.

High Hopes Band - Suckah (live) from Greg Story on Vimeo.

Reggae Jam Rock trio, TreeHouse! brings  new depths of rhythms, themes and other elements on tour from their third studio album, Lifted.

The Myrtle Beach, South Carolina based band is set to tour most 2015 throughout the East Coast, Mid-Atlantic, and the USVI. These road warriors perform hundreds of shows a year and intend to keep this pace strong for the new release.

"Lifted" features a balance of the band's older styles with a range of newer influences. At the request of fans, TreeHouse! dug into their stock pile of songs to record some highly anticipated older live jams including "Follow Your Calling", "Que Sera (It is What it Is)" & "Just Another Day". The first single release from the album is "Look into the Stars", a collaboration with Zach Fowler, from fellow South Carolina Reggae Rock band, Sun-Dried Vibes

Full of textured "ear candy", pulling from influences like 311, Bob Marley, Sublime, Slightly Stoopid, Rebelution, SOJA, and The Dirty Heads, TreeHouse! invites fans to sit back and enjoy an energetic roller coaster, smoothly riding through a distinct range of emotions incorporated through saxophone, trumpet, keys, didgeridoo, percussion, and even group karate!  Join the band in its unique style to create a sound that is both familiar and refreshing. Get “Lifted”!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Persian Indie Pop Star Rana Mansour Debut CD release party and concert September 12 2015 in Toronto

From a media release:

Persian Indie Pop Star Rana Mansour Debut CD release party and concert
w/ Erwin Khachikian, Siavash Sadr Mahdavi and Mahsa Ghassemi
Revival Bar, 783 College Street West, Toronto
Saturday, September 12, 2015 @ 7:00-10:00 pm

• Also available at Pegah & Superkhorak
Album out September 10, 2015

TORONTO – Link Music Lab and Karmandan Productions proudly present indie-Persian sensation RANA MANSOUR in concert at Revival Bar in Toronto, to release her self-titled debut album. On Saturday, September 12, Rana will be performing her compelling, Persian pop tunes alongside fellow musicians Erwin Khachikian, Siavash Sadr Mahdavi and Mahsa Ghassemi.

Rana Mansour is an Iranian-American artist who has appeared on major international TV networks and programs (Bravo, VH1, BBC, VOA, and Manoto TV). Her single, “Shohare Pooldar” (Rich Husband) from her debut album, has been an instant hit in the indie-Persian music scene. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and producer Erwin Khachikian – who is a member of Serj Tankian’s (System Of A Down) solo project and creator of the unconventional Persian rock group Karmandan – and has produced and toured with numerous Persian artists since the mid 90’s.

The album tracks were all handpicked by Erwin and Rana (a few even written by Erwin himself) and carefully chosen to match her taste and class. The result of Rana’s pioneering dedication, focus, and consistency, is an innovative offering that clearly sets her apart amongst Iranian-American musicians. She has clearly made her mark on the Persian scene as a leading artist.

The duo has collaborated on an all-English project called THE ANIMATES. The band’s sound has an 80’s pop familiarity with a current feel, based around Rana’s strong and emotive vocals.

Currently Erwin and Rana are booked this fall in US, Canada, and Europe in various venues to promote Rana’s debut album release and THE ANIMATES project.

More artist links:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ranamansourmusic
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/471400543042335/
Twitter: @RanaMusic