Today, in 1964, a group of railway workers stumbled upon something very curious on the station platform...
...a tea chest carrying more than the typical contents. Instead, a 12-year-old girl named Carol Dryden was crammed into the chest, which donned a label addressed to The Beatles.
Here's some live footage of The Beatles performing "Ticket to Ride." You can get a fairly good idea of the hysteria they instilled in young girls, and maybe understand with greater ease why little Carol wedged herself into luggage to be with the icons. :
The UK tidal force, 6 Day Riot, defines their genre of Folk Pop, and possibly creates a genre of their own; Gypsy Acoustic. Their lyrics read like poetry, and are open to the interpretation of the listener. Because of the versatility in their words, many meanings can be realized when listening to these beautiful slices of the old world.
The four tracks featured on their Myspace, from their 2008 EP, Bring on the Waves, showcase a darker, more introspective tone than their previous recordings on the 2007 release of Folie a Deux. While they have taken on a serious tone with the slightly deeper lyricism, they still maintain a joy that is prominent throughout the four tracks. I sense a theme that is based on battles and victories. Whether it is joy for joys sake, or the joy of resistance, they are ever-smiling.
An almost discordant ukulele enters as the song “Gerald the Glider” begins. Its upbeat tempo brings excitement, while the melody sparks unrest. Tamara Schlesinger sings with a clear and pure sound. I believe there to be religious contexts related to the song, especially with the lyric “Together we stand, together we pray. More hands than faces in this world we did create.” Although, the following chorus, “But don’t stray, stay tied to this wire of mine,” makes me think she is being ironic. This is what is great about 6 Day Riot- so many meanings can be found within one simple song.
“The Last Stand” is an epic send off, and doesn’t shy away from the theme of battle. The band is marching in their gypsy army, off to defend the honesty of their music. The profound trumpet sounds, while the militant percussion steadily holds its rhythm; both announcing the impending battle. The Spanish horn paints an image of a stand-off at sunset. Orange and red lights shine on the desperado they have created with their sound. It’s now or never. They unite as one voice, linking arms to create a wall of sound. They fade with the sun as it disappears behind the horizon.
Based on the four sample tracks 6 Day Riot has featured on their Myspace, I can confidently say the EP, Bring on the Waves, will do just that. They will rock the boat, but manage to keep everyone on board smiling. Witty lyrics and their acoustic, old world charm will instantly win over listeners for life.
Tamara Schlesinger: vocals, guitar, ukulele, tenor guitar, glock, Caspar Riis: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals John Beyer: double bass, guitar, vocals Daniel Deavin: drums, percussion, shouting Andy Watts: trumpet, guitar, percussion, vocals
On the recordings and sometimes joining us live: Sophie Loyer: violin, saw Sean O'Brien: accordion
Stay tuned for more about 6 Day Riot, as we will be featuring the band sometime in July.
Often times, when we think of composers who have contributed to the musical world, we think of names including-- but not limited to-- Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, Chopin, and Mozart. Although prolific, not one of these composers was American, or has lived in the last century. In recent years, recognition for contemporary American composers has dwindled. With that said, allow me to bring to your attention the song stylings of American composer, Ned Rorem (1923 - ). For years, Rorem's gorgeous song settings have been incessantly praised. Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham is added to the mix, resulting in the 2000 release of Songs of Ned Rorem, featuring Malcolm Martineau on piano and the Ensemble Oriol string quartet. This 32-track compilation is sure to be a delight for all who choose to give it a listen.
What is it, you ask, that make Rorem's compositions so distinctly beautiful? At the start of the first track, "Sonnet", the listener will understand why he receives the praise he does. Featuring the entire ensemble, this piece exhibits an unparalleled delicacy, and transports to a place of musical bliss. Of course, the compilation is only a taste of the hundreds of compositions that have graced the world over the last half a century or so, but the ones on this disc are undoubtedly an excellent representation. Much of the time, composers use the same compositional techniques, resulting in similar-sounding songs. While Rorem's work is distinctly his, each of the tracks has something specific that sets it apart from the others.
As far as the text is concerned, Rorem has chosen a group of lyric poetry whose themes seem to center on death, love, nature, and the passage of time. A good majority of the poets are American, but, interestingly enough, the chronological gap is quite large. Rorem features poetry spanning from the Elizabethan era to Walt Whitman. His chosen texts (and his music, for that matter) are stunningly, sometimes startlingly, dazzling, and honest.
Upon first listen, it is quite obvious that Rorem draws much of his inspiration from setting. Having spent much of his life in both New York and Paris, these two places seem to recur frequently throughout his compositions. The third track, "Early in the Morning", is often hailed as Rorem's most famous work. The text, by Robert Hillyer, paints a tourist's picture of Paris. Similarly, the twentieth track, "The Lordly Hudson", uses a backdrop of the majestic Hudson river.
Mr. Rorem could not have picked a better vessel for his work than the lovely Susan Graham. In recent years, Ms. Graham has become one of the most acclaimed and sought-after mezzo-sopranos of our time. Her milky, rich tone enhances the music in ways no one else's possibly could. As with many of her other works, she executes the songs beautifully, making them seem effortless. Even twenty or thirty tracks in, it is impossible to tire of her voice and what she brings to the music. Martineau and the chamber ensemble deliver a sparkling performance as well.
Some listeners may find a few of the tracks on this disc rather abrupt, as some of them last only thirty seconds or less. Many times, however, their brevity is appropriate, and directly relative to the texts.
Other highlights include a setting of Walt Whitman's "Look Down, Fair Moon", and Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"; perhaps the most beautiful setting of it I have ever heard. In both pieces, Rorem establishes setting with excellent use of the piano. The unpredictable melodic lines are sure to leave the listeners with something different to sink their teeth into.
Rorem brings an unprecedented eloquence to the field; one that is sure to stand the test of time. This compilation serves as a fantastic taste of Rorem's work, and an excellent example of a prolific contemporary American composer. If nothing else, consider it as a great way to brush up on British and American poetry. For something that will leave you enlightened and enchanted, I encourage you to seek out this collection.
Track Listings for Songs of Ned Rorem:
1. Sonnet [Bynner] 2. Clouds [Goodman] 3. Early In The Morning [Hillyer] 4. The Serpent [Roethke] 5. Now Sleeps The Crimson Petal [Tennyson] 6. Opus 101 [Bynner] 7. I Strolled Across An Open Field [Roethke] 8. To A Young Girl [Yeats] 9. Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair [after Foster] 10. Ode [de Ronsard] 11. For Poulenc [O'Hara] 12. Littlle elegy [Wylie] 13. Alleluia 14. Look Down, Fair Moon [Whitman] 15. O You Whom I Often And Silently Come [Whitman] 16. I Will Always Love You [O'Hara] 17. The Tulip Tree [Goodman] 18. The Wintry Mind [Bynner] 19. I Am Rose [Stein] 20. The Lordly Hudson [Goodman] 21. O Do Not Love Too Long [Goodman] 22. Far - Far - Away [Tennyson] 23. For Susan [Goodman] 24. A Journey [Glaze] 25. Sometimes With One I Love [Goodman] 26. Love [Lodge] 27. Orchids [Roethke] 28. Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening [Frost] 29. Do I Love You More Than A Day [Larson] 30. Ferry Me Across The Water [Rossetti] 31. The Sowers [Bynner] 32. That Shadow, My Likeness [Whitman]
Here is a video featuring Susan Graham's recording of "Look Down, Fair Moon."
These are simple words, and yet the concepts behind them are filled with such complexities. The one passion in my life which has led me to empowerment in all of these areas is music.
I am very close to receiving my Bachelor of Music degree from Westminster Choir College, but I have been a musician all my life. I began taking piano lessons when I was 6, and have sung ever since I could phonate. I live and breathe through music, as I'm sure many of you do, and I am commonly drawn to others who do the same. Because of this, Jason Mraz has turned out to be my perfect match. I have gained far more from his ideas than those of almost any other musician. I had heard some of his music back in high school, when his song "The Remedy" was viciously battling John Mayer's "Your Body is a Wonderland," but other than that I hadn't really paid much attention to the phenomenon that was Mraz. I was re-introduced to his music last Spring (2007) by Jenna, who came into my dorm room insisting that I watch the "Geek in the Pink" video, so I did. Repeatedly.
Here it is, in all of its funktastic glory. My favorite part is when he is swinging the cotton candy. If you aren't dancing by that point, then you're a square. :
Needless to say, after living with that loop of greatness for hours, I was addicted to Mraz, and by some act of God it was announced that he was scheduled to play at my school just a few weeks after my miraculous re-discovery. The original act that was rumoured to be playing was Ben Folds. That obviously never worked out, and even though I am quite a fan of Folds, I can't say I was terribly disappointed by the replacement. The show was wisely scheduled during finals week, but I held together and went. I'm sure my grades suffered because of my decision, but you'd never hear me say I regret it.
When I first embarked on this feature, I almost felt stupid. "Who doesn't know Jason Mraz?" I asked myself. I am shocked to find out that the answer is: a lot of people. Jason Mraz is not just a talented musician, but an amazing man. He uses musical ideas to entertain, but also to illustrate an entire state of mind. Mraz has helped me completely transform my life, and I'm sure his ideas will help change yours as well...as long as you learn to live by his motto: Live high. Live mighty. Live Righteously. Let's break this down, shall we?
While it is very possible/probable that Mraz meant this line quite literally, I would go out on a limb and say that it can also be interpreted as a musical high. A Jason Mraz concert is a very freeing experience; one that most certainly taught me to "live high." I had not listened to very much of his music before I was engulfed in my first live show, so that night I was blasted with a large dose of both passion and witticism. All of his music is deeply rooted in emotion and his songs showcase his lyrical brilliance. These intensely personal connections with the audience are dressed up with feel good melodies that somehow leave the listener feeling uplifted.
This April (2008), I was able to see him live again, during his "Music, Magic, & Makepeace Tour." The shows sold out within seconds (I am not exaggerating) of the presales, and somehow I was quick enough to get tickets. Jenna and I stood in line for hours the day of the concert to ensure we were close to the stage. (not that I don't wedge myself up to the front regardless...but still...)
Here is the only picture I was able to snap of him before he went into the building. I was on the phone at the time, and was too flustered to take more! :
Kristen arrived, and shortly after, we were let in. I've been to a fair amount of shows recently, but none like this. What you need to understand is that the "Music, Magic, & Makepeace Tour" did not supply the audience with a concert, but instead with an EVENT. The show lasted for almost 5 hours. It was amazing. Once Jenna finishes battling with YouTube I will link some footage.
Mraz has taken his fine self overseas for the time being, so most of you will not be able to catch a show anytime soon. For now you will just have to get high off of his recordings.
Begin by watching this video."Cannabis College" is a cult classic:
All I can tell you is to read his blog. He started posting in September, but it took me until sometime over Winter break to find it. I was lying in my bed surfing the internet mindlessly, hungry for meaning in anything I could find; and there it was. If you do mosey on over to the good ole freshness factor five thousand, I recommend that you start at the beginning and work your way to the present. You get a really good sense of who Jason may be.
What does this have to do with "living mighty," you ask? Everything. While Mraz's writing is incredibly quirky, and a joy to read, the depth in his thoughts is undeniable. Reading it is like a crash course in empowerment. Almost every entry details a piece of the puzzle that has helped him improve his lifestyle and state of mind. The vibe of the style of writing itself is refreshing, and every time I leave I am left with this aftertaste of "YES, I CAN!" It's a good feeling.
What could possibly be more empowering than a freestyle? Watch Mraz and Bushwalla work their magic:
Something I have touched on briefly elsewhere on this webzine is Jason Mraz's eco-savvy ways. He teaches us to live righteously by caring about ourselves and our Mother Earth. He talked about this a lot while he was on tour, as we watched him quench his thirst via an array of water bottles. (If you scroll up and look at the pic I took when he was arriving at the show, you will see him decked out in his water bottle gear.) His entire tour was focussed on staying green, and those SIGG bottles were only a small part of how he made this happen.
Mraz is also a strong supporter of eco-friendly clothing. Most of the shirts you will ever see him in come from a company called Blend Apparel. A lot of their goods are made from 100% Bamboo Fiber. If you want to jump on this train of ultimate green-ness, please do. Their designs are hip, and their prices aren't too shabby either.
It was this day in 1969 that Brian Jones said his goodbyes to the Rolling Stones. Jones was one of the founding members of the group, but claimed he had to leave because of artistic differences. He did not agree with the direction many members were wanting to go. (Good thing they never made it anywhere, or he would have been upset. Oh wait...)
Also on this day, but in 1974, Rick Wakeman announced that he was leaving YES. He was their keyboard player. (I hope you're not as disturbed by the photo as I am.)