Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Presents

As I write this, most of the stores here in the Eastern time zone are closed. The frenzy of shopping is over, and now there is finally a quiet moment to actually think about the meaning and spirit of the holiday. There are presents which are very important, but have no physical substance. I will be giving my children this kind of present this evening as I share a story with each of them at bedtime. And music can often be this kind of gift. So this year, I want to propose a music themed gift for the last minute.

Incidentally, there is no album review this week. I was blindsided by some late-in-the-game elfing, and there wasn’t time. I hope to get one last album review in before the end of the year. Stay tuned, and we’ll see how that works out.

Steve Forbert: Grand Central Station, March 18, 1977


In my mind, nothing better represents the gift of music than a busker. Steve Forbert started out this way, and he put Grand Central Station… on his first album. Forbert clearly regarded the music he played as a busker a gift, although I’m sure he never turned down the money people gave him. But I have often enjoyed the work of street musicians when I have visited New York City. This year, when I made the trip to find Christmas presents for my wife, I heard a wonderful A Capella group who I hope to tell you more about eventually. As I thank all of the musicians I have heard who gave there art away for all to enjoy, that leads me to…

Calls for help:

Urban Sun: Good Beat

[ donate to Urban Sun’s campaign here]

Urban Sun is an old, old school funk band. I’ve been looking for music like this, but I didn’t think anyone was making it any more. I’m glad I was wrong. Urban Sun is an eight-piece band, and each part moves and grooves. Take the songs apart, and it seems like it shouldn’t work, but put it all together and it definitely does. That’s how classic funk, by people like Earth, Wind and Fire and the Neville Brothers worked, and Urban Sun nails it. Their lead singer sounds like Supestition-era Stevie Wonder, and the whole thing just cooks. The band has established themselves in New York City, and now they are hoping that their second album will help them get heard further afield. Now that the holiday shopping is done, and we all have a better idea of what we can afford, please help make this happen if you can.

[donate to Tara O‘Grady‘s campaign here]

I don’t have a finished song or even a demo to share with you from Tara O’Grady. I even had to find an image for this post. For her new album, these are things O’Grady hopes to be able to afford if her Kickstarter campaign succeeds. So, Tara, this post is my Christmas present to you.

For her debut album, Tara O’Grady recorded a set of traditional Irish Songs her father sang to her when she was a girl. But O’Grady grew up to be a jazz singer, and that is how she recoded these songs. It sounds crazy, but she made it work. It was O’Grady with just drums, bass and piano, and it’s an album I would gladly have featured here if I had known about it in time. But now, O’Grady is making her debut as a songwriter. I haven’t heard any songs from the new album, (I don’t think anyone has), but I believe the music will still be jazz. The band, however, will have a lineup that is closer to Americana. If anyone can make this work, it’s O’Grady. Assuming the album gets made, I hope to share the results with you here.


I told you about Chris LaVancher a while back, and I said that I hoped he could exceed his goal, and make the album he heard in his head. With six days to go as I write this, LaVancher has made his goal. Thank you to everyone who was able to help. So anything he gets now is gravy, and may allow him to have more musicians on the album. Please help if you can.

Finally, Kim Davidson and Kristi Martel are raising money on their own to get their albums made. I have not heard otherwise, so I assume they still need your help as well. Thank you for whatever you can do.

I already said “finally”, but there is just one more thing. Merry Christmas to all of my readers who celebrate, and a happy New Year to all and yours.


Steve MC said...

I've loved that Steve Forbert song since that album came out, and it probably tuned my ear to listening to buskers in Boston when I was there. I listened to one for a while one night, letting subway trains go by, and a few years later found it was Mary Lou Lord.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, too, and a happy New Year, as well.

Anonymous said...

I love this Steve Forbert song. Whenever I travel to New York and find myself in Grand Central Station, I always try to imagine the doorway where Mr. Forbert was howlin' out words and banging out chords.

Speaking of busking songs - I also like Kreg Viesselman's song "The Busker" which you can find on his outstanding album, "The Pull".