Lake Street Dive returns to Boston

Boston-born band Lake Street Dive returned to the city to play a sold-out show at the House of Blues last Wednesday!

 

 

” ‘We owe a lot of gratitude to this city,” Price said near the end of the set, before listing off local venues Lake Street Dive had played in during its journey to major-label status: now-closed spots like “the bubble tea place on Boylston” and the Cambridge bar All Asia, intimate rooms like Cambridge’s Toad and Club Passim, and bigger venues like the Sinclair, Royale, and, of course, House of Blues. It provided a nice callback not just for Lake Street Dive, but also for the fans who were welcoming the band home.”

Read Maura Johnston’s review of the performance at the Boston Globe.

Why are musicians “selling out”?

At the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference, panelists discussed ‘How did this song get in that commercial?” More and more musicians are selling their music to advertising companies, a practice that used to be branded as “selling out.”

 

Piano-Money-

 

In an interview with NPR’s Audie Cornish, Michael Paoletta, a panelist, remarked that “Sometimes when the music is right, you don’t need words at all.” Read more about why music is so essential to advertising and much more here.

 

The Ramones’ self-titled 1976 album to be reissued this summer!

In 1976, The Ramones released their self-titled first album. Although the record was not a success at first, it “became the founding document of punk rock.”

 

The Ramones

The Ramones

 

On the occasion of the album’s 40th anniversary, Rhino Records is reissuing an expanded album this summer! In addition, there will be an exhibition entitled “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk,” at the Queens Museum beginning April 10.

Read more about the Ramones album on the New York Times!

Michelle Obama delivers the keynote address at SXSW

First Lady Michelle Obama gave the keynote address at the annual South by Southwest conference and festival in Austin, Texas on Wednesday. She talked about the Let Girls Learn initiative and participated in a panel with Missy Elliott, Diane Warren, Sophia Bush and Queen Latifah.

 

 

Read some interesting commentary on the event at NPR.

 

Hamilton at the White House!

Obama invited the cast of Hamilton to sing “Alexander Hamilton” and “My Shot” at the White House on Monday! The event was live streamed and is now available to watch here.

 

 

In his remarks before the performance, Obama stated, “…And in the Hamilton that Lin-Manuel and his incredible cast and crew bring to life, a man who is just like his country – young, scrappy, and hungry – we recognize the improbable story of America, and the spirit that has sustained our nation for over 240 years.”

What better way to celebrate America?

George Martin, The 5th Beatle

George Martin, known as “the 5th Beatle” for his influential role in the production of The Beatles’ original albums, died this past Tuesday at the age of 90.

Bob Boilen of NPR writes, “George Martin’s skills as an arranger are on all of The Beatles albums: the strings on “Yesterday,” a trumpet on “Penny Lane” and the crazy brass and strings on “I Am The Walrus” are just a few of the ways he stretched the bounds of popular music. What you have to remember is that nothing had sounded like this EVER, and he played a large role in that progression.” Read the full article here.

 

 

Read a more in-depth discussion of Martin’s career on The Guardian.

Marble machine!

Martin Molin, a Swedish musician, spent over a year creating this music box that operates on 2,000 marbles!

Danny Lewis for the Smithsonian writes, “The Wintergartan Marble Machine works by sending thousands of steel marbles around a circuit, albeit an enormously complex one. As Molin turns a crank, the marbles begin to roll down chutes leading them to different keys on a vibraphone. That’s not the only instrument built into the machine, though. By flipping different switches, Molin can open new channels to a kick drum, a cymbal and even an electric bass, depending on what elements he wants to add into the mix…”

 

Music on the campaign trail

How do Clinton, Sanders, Trump, Rubio, and Cruz brand themselves through music? They have each chosen very different musical aesthetics for their campaign theme songs. The tunes reflect their personal stories…and their marketing strategies.

 

 

Read about which songs candidates have chosen and why in this article from The Guardian.

 

The Oscar for Best Original Song

The Oscars are tonight! Curious about the nominees for best original song? Here’s the list:

  • “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey
  • “Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction
  • “Simple Song #3” from Youth
  • “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground
  • “Writings on the Wall” from Spectre

 

 

Watch trailers and read more here!

 

 

From DJ to Hit

Who’s writing and performing those catchy basslines on today’s top hits in rap? DJ Dahi. Read NPR’s article here.

 

 

Dahi has a lot to say about the music industry:

“I was really inspired by watching the [2015] MTV Video Music Awards show —Kanye’s acceptance speech about listening to kids. It made me think about the kids who were also watching it. Are we giving them information that’s vital to their upbringing — or are we lying to them? I want to give kids a sense of the world through not only my eyes, but through the eyes of artists they love.” That means less celeb bickering and trivial boasting, and more thoughtful direction for an audience that Dahi feels has been led astray.

Boston Symphony Orchestra wins Grammy under music director Andris Nelsons!

The Boston Symphony Orchestra won a Grammy for their Deutsche Grammaphon recording entitled “Shostakovich: Under Stalin’s Shadow.” This is the first recording the BSO has made under this label, and the first grammy win for music director Andris Nelsons!

 

 

Nelsons had lovely words to say about the honor, “Firstly I’m very proud of the Boston Symphony Orchestra…All of the wonderful musicians, of course, but also the management team, the board, the supporters, and the audience, all the people who are a part of the Boston Symphony family.”

 

Nelsons remarked that Shostakovich’s music is especially important to listen to during times of global turmoil, “The world is going a bit crazy, and what Shostakovich says through these symphonies is actually very [timely] nowadays. I’m very happy and touched that people feel the necessity to listen to this music, and that this music gives them emotional and intellectual comfort.”

 

 

What do New Yorkers have to say about love?

Listen to NPR’s Valentine’s Day podcast about love in New York City. “You’d think people would be shy and private, but the love was overwhelming. One after another, New Yorkers took a seat and told us about what made them fall in love, the love they lost, and the love they’ll never forget.”

 

 

Music: Selena – Dreaming of You, Los Cenzontles & Andre Thierry – La Luna Y Las Estrellas, Sigur Rós – Hoppipolla, Alex Andwandter – Cómo Puedes Vivir Contigo Mismo

The voice of a strange bird

Barbara Hannigan, one of the most talented sopranos living today, was described by members of the Berlin Philharmonic as “…a strange bird that we’ve never heard before.”

 

 

A champion of new classical music, Hannigan has performed over 80 world premieres. The Berlin Philharmonic’s Simon Rattle says of Hannigan, “She’s fearless and she has technique and brains to burn. So, we’re just lucky to have her on the same planet at the same time.” Hannigan is also a conductor, a field in which there is still a glass ceiling for women.

Hannigan performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra earlier in February. Check out her work if you want to be swept away by new music!

Read the NPR article here.

 

Dudamel at halftime!

LA Times reporter Mark Swed writes “…in this divided country of ours, one of the big divides is the phony distinction between pop culture and, for want of a better word, classical.”

 

 

Dudamel is conducting his Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) tonight during the Super Bowl halftime show, a move that will hopefully help bridge the gap between “high” and “low art,” and that will shine a light on the need for more music education in this country. Read the article here.

 

 

Formation

You know that little flutter your heart makes when Beyoncé drops a new song? It just happened again!!

‘Formation,’ her latest song is catchy, feminist, political, and full of southern black pride. Watch the video here. Beyoncé will perform the new single at the Super Bowl tomorrow night!

 

 

You know what else is amazing? She’s offering a free download on Jay Z’s streaming platform Tidal.

 

 

The story behind Bernie Sanders’ folk album

In 1987, Todd Lockwood, a music producer based in Burlington, had the idea of bringing Vermonters together to make an album featuring the voice of the one and only Bernie Sanders, then the popular mayor of Burlington.

 

 

Apparently Lockwood didn’t check if Sanders had a good singing voice until it was too late, so Sanders ended up speaking the words of some of the greatest folk songs.

Listen to whole story behind We Shall Overcome here.

 

A new dose of global music

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino from southern Italy and Bombino from Niger start out NPR’s global music recommendations. Hearing songs from different cultures alongside each other teaches us that there is beauty in difference, and also that music is an activity that links the entire world together. Learn tidbits of history while discovering some great new music in this Latitude blog post on NPR.

 

 

 

Ellen or Jimmy?

Justin Timberlake decides whether Jimmy Fallon or Ellen DeGeneres should win this round of the lip sync battle:

 

 

The best part is at the end, when Ellen introduces Rihanna’s B**** Better Have My Money and then proceeds to kill it with the choreography.

Hamilton the musical goes on tour!

Can’t get the songs from Hamilton out of your head? You’re in luck! Hamilton, the production by Lin-Manuel Miranda that’s taking the musical world by storm, is going on tour. The musical will open in Chicago next September, and the following March San Francisco and LA will be graced with its presence!

 

Make sure to keep your eye out for tickets!

 

Spotify Playlists from the Stars

Ever wondered what Rihanna, Kacey Musgraves, and Snoop Dogg listen to on Spotify? Here are some famous musicians’ playlists!

 

 

Wait for it!

Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Aaron Burr in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton, discusses being cast in a life-changing role.

 

 

” ‘When he finished that song,’ Odom says, voice ringing with the moment’s impact, ‘I said, ‘Wow — I’ve never heard a song quite like that on Broadway.’ I just knew that whoever was going to get to sing ‘Wait for It’ eight shows a week was going to be a lucky actor. I knew that.’ ”

In talking about the fact that all of the founding fathers and their families are played by people of color, Odom says that what this situation creates is empathy, the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes. This is true for the actors and the audience members.

 

Read the article here.

 

Recognize that voice?

Garrison Keiller, the host of the popular radio show A Prairie Home Companion, talks about his love for Minneapolis, MN on NPR’s World Cafe.

 

 

The music featured on A Prairie Home Companion aligns perfectly with Keillor’s own personal taste in music. In fact, the show started out as a music show! Listen to the whole interview here.

 

 

So what happened in 2015?

From surprise albums to protest songs to comebacks to local club turnovers, 2015 was a year of many exciting changes in the music world.

“In Boston and beyond, the music world was a scene of dramatic contrasts in 2015: both superlative highs and shattering lows. Here’s a look back at the topics that sparked buzz in the last 12 months.” Read the full article in the Boston Globe here.

 

Pete Seeger Was Followed by the FBI

In 1942, while in a the army, Pete Seeger, the renowned folk musician who died only last year, wrote a letter to protest the Japanese interment camps during World War II. Ever since that letter was reported to the FBI by the California American Legion, Seeger was closely watched and followed. In a time when communists were feared and targeted by the US government, Seeger was a likely target, given his liberal political opinions and evocative lyrics.

 

 

Read about the Seeger investigation here. The documents were recently released at the request of Mother Jones.

 

The Beatles Are Finally Streaming!

For the Beatles fans out there (so basically….everyone?): the band’s music is now available on all streaming services! All of their albums became available worldwide at midnight on Christmas Eve.

 

 

“The Beatles, the biggest-selling group of all time, waited more than seven years before coming to iTunes in 2010. Until now, the group was one of most high-profile artists not available to stream, The Guardian reported.” Read the full article Buzzfeed here.

 

Best Boston Bands

The Boston Globe has compiled a list of the Best Local Albums of 2015. These artists perform locally in Boston, so if you get hooked, you’re in luck!

 

Mariah Carey’s “Christmas Empire”

Over time, Mariah Carey has built a “Christmas empire” out of her music and image. She has built herself a lasting legacy in American musical history as the pop star of Christmas. The New York Times’ Wesley Morris discusses Carey’s fame in his article “Mariah Carey’s List is Short: All She Wants is Immortality”…read the full article here!

 

 

Kurt Masur’s Legacy at the New York Philharmonic

Kurt Masur, music director of the New York Philharmonic from 1991 to 2002, died on Saturday at the age of 88.

 

 

NPR wrote a beautiful tribute to Masur, detailing the way he “rebuilt” the New York Phil in the 90s into one of America’s leading orchestras after a period of bad reviews and lackluster performances.

The article quotes Alan Gilbert, the current music director and son of musicians who played under Masur:

” ‘Masur’s years at the New York Philharmonic represent one of its golden eras, in which music-making was infused with commitment and devotion — with the belief in the power of music to bring humanity closer together,” Gilbert said in a statement provided by the orchestra. “The ethical and moral dimensions that he brought to his conducting are still palpable in the musicians’ playing, and I, along with the Philharmonic’s audiences, have much to thank him for. I will always be grateful for the support he gave me starting long ago when I was a student. I will miss him deeply.’ ”

 

Read the full article here.

Celebrate the Holidays in Providence!

The Providence Journal has compiled a list of arts events for this week!

 

 

The MET has a concert coming up tonight, and on Wednesday the Trans-Siberan Orchestra is coming to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center to play some “Christmas rock.”

Check out full listings here.

Appalachian Spring

In 1944 Aaron Copland, the quintessential American composer, and Martha Graham, one of the most famous American dancers and choreographers of all time, came together to create Appalachian Spring, a joyous ballet about Shaker pioneers in the Pennsylvania hills. The choreography is entertaining and innovative, and Martha Graham plays the role of a young bride so gracefully. The music is classic Copland, and quotes the Shaker hymn “Tis the Gift to be Simple.”

 

 

Watch some of the choreography here:

 

Playlist for 2015

Hooked on the music from Hamilton? Can’t stop listening to Adele’s new album? This is NPR’s year 2015 in music!

Musical Christmas Gift Guide!

The New York Times has reviewed some of this year’s best Christmas CDs in case you need some gift-giving advice! From Soul to Swing to hymns, these tunes will put you in the christmas spirit.

 

In light of last weekend’s attacks in Paris and Beirut, and of all the violence that occurs every day on this earth, music can heal and make life bearable. Listen to All Songs Considered’s playlist to celebrate global music and the appreciation of cultures other than our own.

 

Oumou Sangare

Oumou Sangare, Grammy Award-winning Malian Wassoulou singer

 

Blackstone River Theatre Homecoming Concert!

On Saturday, November 28 at 7:30pm, the Blackstone River Theatre will be presenting their 16th annual homecoming concert and silent auction fundraiser!

Enjoy music from the Eastern Medicine Singers, John Fuzek, Robbie O’Connell, Pendragon, Grant Maloy Smith, Ed Sweeney, and The Vox Hunters (featuring the shop’s own Armand Aromin!).

The show will take place at the Blackstone River Theatre: 549 Broad St., Cumberland, RI (Across from Ann & Hope).

$20. Get your tickets now! More info at (401)725-9272 or www.riverfolk.org

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Dom Flemons, The American Songster

Dom Flemons, a talented roots singer and multi-instrumentalist, known to the public as the “American Songster,” performed a lively set @ The Burren in Somerville last night.

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Dom Flemons

 

In the second half of the show, Flemons spoke to the intimate audience about the making of his new album Prospect Hill, which features both original and traditional blues and old-time tunes. Watch one of his most popular songs, “Polly Put the Kettle On,” here:

 

 

Flemons is an intelligent and thoughtful musician. He makes a point of highlighting the undocumented narratives of black music in the US. Flemons is working to reclaim the meaning of minstrel songs, which were performed by traveling musicians in the 19th and early 20th centuries wearing blackface, by performing them in his own style. The following video is his interpretation of the minstrel tune “Can You Blame The Colored Man?”:

 

 

As a scholar of roots music, Flemons presents the nuances of the history of blackface minstrelsy. In his article “Can You Blame Gus Cannon?” he discusses the reasons why a black musician such as Gus Cannon would choose to wear blackface and participate in a tradition that blatantly mocked black musicians. Flemons writes, “In his music I heard minstrelsy, but I could also hear a novel, legitimate black art form developed from minstrel roots.”

 

 

Pharrell Williams speaks @ NYU

Pharrell sat down with NPR’s Jason King at NYU last month for over an hour to talk about his new song “Freedom”, politics, childhood, and even tapas!

King’s bio of Pharrell is fascinating, and this interview is a really intimate look at a huge pop star’s surprisingly humble perspective. Watch and read here.