Getting in the Groove

As some of you know, I haven’t posted regularly in quite a while. To get back into that, I want, no I need, to post about one of my favorite subjects — MUSIC.

Sometime ago I started a category on this site called “MusicILove.” It is always a pleasure to make posts that fall into this category, and since I want this experience of posting regularly again to be a joy, I’m coming with a music post near the beginning of my reboot, if you will.

For new readers who don’t know, I am a player. No, not that kind of player. I’m too old for that. I mean player in the best possible way. I love to play piano or keyboards (almost any kind). I do play classical music, but I also play just about everything else. Jazz is my favorite. I can get drunk playing that stuff. When I was in college, and was only minoring in music, I was way down on the priority list for using the practice rooms at school, which had wonderful grand pianos. Those rooms were sometimes impossible to get into. But when I did get in, I would stay for hours and literally be dizzy when I left. No weed for me. Just give me a nine foot concert grand in a room with fantastic acoustics. One of the best highs ever.

Playing became such an obsession that at one point in my life I managed to get paid for playing jazz. I have very fond memories of that, and some of it is going to work its way into a published story I hope.

And the reason I’m going down memory lane today is due to a Facebook memory popping up from eight years ago. It’s a YouTube video of a jazz player. I mostly listen to this guy in iTunes on my iPhone, because I downloaded his videos years ago and converted them to MP3 files. So I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t even know until this morning that he still had a YouTube channel. But I’m glad he does as his playing never gets old. He’s Nicholas Tam, programmer, gamer, jazz player with the aptly named YouTube channel, Play it again, Tam.

A few of his goodies:

By the way, I have never heard Richard Armitage mention any jazz music he likes. I certainly could have missed it if he did. If so, please school me. I would love to know what, if any, he likes. Thanks!

Who Needs a Valentine…

Valentine’s Day happened, and I had the response I usually do which is no response. But the first year I was married, I became self-conscious about not celebrating Valentine’s. That was before I learned SO refused to be put in a box. Originally I thought it was a cop out on his part as most guys don’t like Valentine’s. But it turned out he was more romantic than I was.

And along the way I’ve figured out I’m not really sure how this love thing is to be done. I just know how SO and I have done it, and I’m satisfied with it. I’m satisfied with this man who has been charming, funny, witty and kind, and also gotten me out of my doldrums and self-centeredness on so many occasions. If he had not done that, I know I would have missed out on so many good times. Like the times afforded by his company who would give him a new car every couple of years, and he got to select it, and conservative me never would have picked this car, but SO did:

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and off we went down the highways and byways and always with a song to begin. This one:

The first time he put on that song, I rolled my eyes. He laughed and said, “Lighten up!” I did and quickly realized that song has the ability to put me in a mood which shouts, “Anything good can happen today!”

He followed that song with this one below, and while it was playing, he would usually look over at me and grin, which was actually a leer, and I would receive his message.

As I got into what we were doing, I began to have my favorites for the road. First was this:

And this:

SO also had his favorites:

And this one which is pretty much an anthem for SO:

Oh, yeah, and:


Before we knew it, we were up to three 90 minute tapes. We wore those tapes out going to San Francisco for July 4th, Washington D.C. for New Year’s, Florida for President’s Day, and many other trips. Some during holidays and some not. The best ones were spontaneous. We would have a few days off, get in the car, just start driving, and see where it took us. One time we ended up near Canada but didn’t have time to go across the border. We did that another time. And that may not sound like much, but we lived in Texas at the time.

SO went on to pick some other really cool vehicles while he worked for that company, and I have fond memories of all of them but mostly of him sitting in them.

Today I was remembering these things as I’ve done so many times, and I asked myself, “Who needs a Valentine when you have all of this?” I surely don’t and have not missed it.

No Richard Armitage segue other than to say:

Richard,

I hope you can find someone whom you can live, laugh and love with. It is sweet.

Signed,
A Crazy Fan who’s not that crazy about Valentine’s

I made a playlist of some of our road songs. They’re in no particular order but the first two, and it’s certainly not all of them. SO reminded me of a few I had forgotten. But I was too lazy to add them and leave you with a sampling indicative of our tastes.

edit: this post is in no way a commentary on the Valentine’s love being spread amongst fans. I think that’s great! :) This post is a response to myself. I’ve bitched about so much in life that I wanted to bask in something I should be ridiculously grateful for.

Pardon Me, I’m in Zuni World

note as of 11-23-14: Zuni has a new Twitter account for her music.

I’m aware there is currently a huge press push for The Desolation of Smaug, but I am taking a short break from the deluge and soothing myself with an artist I’ve come to adore. Hey, I run a fan blog, so my adoration has to go somewhere when I’m taking a breather from our guy, which I’ve done a few times this last year.

ZuniStevenson

When I first witnessed Zuni Stevenson’s performances several months ago, it was due to her following me on Twitter, and I responded as per usual — going over to the website or YouTube channel listed on the profile and checking it out. The thumbnail on the first video looked like at least a thousand others I’ve seen and usually come away from respecting the person for sticking out their neck with a public performance and nothing more. But Zuni didn’t just have chutzpah. Damn! this girl actually had some talent:

I was also charmed by her sweet but somehow knowing demeanor, so I watched another video:

And another one:

And another one:

And before I knew it, I was a fan and had these songs converted to MP3 and loaded on my phone with this possibly being my favorite:

Yes, please, please give Zuni what she wants, which is to make singing her full-time profession. Obviously, I believe she can attain it, and a big part of that confidence is not just in her talent for singing but in her ability to take a song and make it hers. I now count her cover of Life on Mars as my favorite version.

Not long after I listened to those first few videos, I found myself wishing she had some original material, and then it happened:

May this continue! And please note that even if I already owned some of these songs, I bought all of them from the original artists as a sort of support for Zuni. But I look forward to the day I can buy her music. Hopefully, someone who can help her is out there listening!

To hear more from Zuni, check out her website and her YouTube channels here and here. You can also follow her on Twitter.

another note: I’m not sure why Zuni followed me. Maybe she’s a Richard Armitage fan. :D

Do You Need a Grin?

This was going to be a Valentine’s post, but I can’t hold back any longer!

Tom Jones never fails to put me in a good mood even if I’m determined to fight it. I challenge you to listen to these songs and not end up with a silly grin on your face. I could just put up the videos of his live performances and make you go beyond grinning to laughing out loud, but this isn’t about Tom’s gyrations. It’s about the very hopeful sound of these tunes and lyrics.

Some trivia about this song: it’s in the opening credits of Shakespeare Retold: Much Ado About Nothing*, which is part of the DVD set that includes the version of Macbeth with James McAvoy and Richard Armitage.

Okay, this one is super sexist and dated, but hey, I’m still smiling:

Come to think of it, most of these are sexist and dated. LOL!

Some more trivia: I saw What’s New Pussycat? in the movie theater when I was a kid. This was the first time I heard that Tom Jones (ne: Thomas John Woodward) was a distant relative. I cannot remember how. Need to ask Mom sometime. It’s only been 30+ years since we talked about it. Yes, I’m admitting how very old I am. LOL!

Last but certainly not least:

Does Richard Armitage like Tom Jones’ music? I don’t know, but I imagine him grinning when he hears it whether he likes it or not. :D

Yeah, I know you wanna laugh, Rich:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Portraits
“Oh, I want to, Frenz, but I’m supposed to be serious now.”

Yeah, sure you are.

*My favorite story on that DVD set. If you haven’t watched Shakespeare Retold, run and get it!

Photo still courtesy of RichardArmitageNet.Com

A Siren’s Song

Sometimes I just get blue. I used to always pick it apart — that blue funk. But analyzing it, nailing it down can be wearying, and sometimes it’s just that I’m a displaced Texan living in the Rockies. Texas can be a terrible and wonderful land, but mostly it’s a big heart with a cutting edge spirit that often thumbs its nose at convention while often appearing tacky with its own. Don’t be fooled by the seeming yahoo. Underneath is a class leveler, and I miss the plain talk and the willingness to be a stereotype in its pursuit. A place where words like ‘shit’ reverberate with meaning way beyond the obvious.

The mentality is best represented in an old joke:

A Texan went to Harvard, and on his first day there he was walking across campus and trying to find a particular building. He saw a group of preppy looking guys and stopped to ask them about it, “‘Scuse me, but can you tell me where the libary’s at?” The obvious leader of this group returned with a sneer, “For your information, it’s ‘library’ and no self-respecting Harvard man would end a sentence in a preposition. Would you care to rephrase that question?” The Texan grinned and replied, “Sure. Can you tell me where the libary’s at, asshole?”

I’m not going to wax on further about my love for Texas. I’ll inflict that on you another day. Feel free to bring the Chainsaw Massacre jokes. I’m ready. :D

Oddly enough, all of this is actually leading to some musicilove.

Shawn Colvin has become the epitome of someone who does her own thing despite her difficulties and is not out to impress anyone unless she wants a boyfriend. ;-). She’s become part of the charm of Austin, Texas along with a cadre of world class artists who make Austin a cultural destination. I’ll talk more about that later if I get inspired. For now I want to focus on Shawn who grew up in London, Ontario and Illinois but eventually settled in Texas. It fit her nature of being tender but hardscrabble when necessary and always startlingly honest.

In her performances she always seems to be trying to get at the truth. She focuses on almost anything but the external, intent on something inside herself, and the timid but wry twist of her mouth reluctantly given makes it devastating. But it’s her voice purring and her guitar along with it that puts a stroke between bone and muscle.

Some of you have heard her pieces. One of her most well known from “A Few Small Repairs” CD:

From the “Serendipity” soundtrack CD:

Other goodies.

From “Steady On” CD:

From “Fat City” CD:

From “A Few Small Repairs” CD:

The title track from “All Fall Down” CD, her latest:

I like that video, but I think I prefer Shawn alone with her guitar:

And I may be wrong about Shawn Colvin’s honesty, but I don’t think so. Just started her memoir. Wow.

And she might wonder, “Who the Hell is Richard Armitage?” I have an answer. :D

Off to listen to the rest of her new CD. She’s also touring in January and Mary Chapin Carpenter will join her in February. I haven’t seen her perform live for years. May have to make a run over to Aspen in February.

edit: I did not realize today is Shawn Colvin’s birthday! Talk about serendipity. :D

Cooling Down

Something to take the edge off after that hefty bout of fangirling Wednesday.

Possibly my favorite jazz pianist:

In this one below, I love how Bill Evans closed his eyes while he was playing. Classic Bill Evans. Check out the bass player Red Mitchell too. It’s the best way to play. Notes are something to be felt, and sometimes embracing the instrument really is almost like falling onto it, yet it cradles you.

Another one:

This is the stuff of my childhood. My dad was a bass player (both bass violin and bass guitar). 40+ years of playing gigs, and it wasn’t uncommon for my mother and me to go with him. I literally spent my youth in places like Village Vanguard. It took growing up to realize most kids are not hanging at jazz joints when they’re ten. These are just some of the things I finally got freed up enough to write about.

Oh heck, one more and with Bill explaining a little of the trio the first couple of minutes or so:

I’m not sure if this post should get the Richard Armitage tag. My CWS must be on the wane, ’cause I don’t have a good sense if this is his thing or not. :D Okay, yeah, he’s cool enough to like it. ;-)

Tangent — The Dirty Secret about iTunes, etc.

I listen to music in iTunes and own a few iPods, but I’m careful about how I handle what I buy there or Amazon mp3, etc., and for good reason.

Who inherits your iTunes library?
Why your digital books and music may go to the grave

Many of us will accumulate vast libraries of digital books and music over the course of our lifetimes. But when we die, our collections of words and music may expire with us.

Someone who owned 10,000 hardcover books and the same number of vinyl records could bequeath them to descendants, but legal experts say passing on iTunes and Kindle libraries would be much more complicated.

read the rest here

So much for the music industry being ripped off.

No, I’m not on an Apple rant this week, or maybe I am.

And nope, not even going to discuss my Kindle.