Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gordon Vincent visits the show

(MQ Murphy photo)
The Saturday, August 13 show featured a visit from a real live singer/songwriter. Gordon Vincent, of New Jersey, Tennessee, and New Jersey again. Gordon released a new CD last week and stopped by the studio to talk about the disk and play a couple of selections live.

Gordon has recorded four CDs now - varying his production approach each time - his last disk, "Confessions of a Hummingbird Farmer" was self produced and Gordon played all instruments himself. The latest - "Mechanical Breakdown" - was also self-produced and recorded but also features singers and players from Cape May and Nashville. His own guitar and keyboard playing are masterful and well crafted - the 13 cuts on the disk (plus one surprise cut and a brief homage to John Cage) show a broad range of well-absorbed influences from the delicate "Annie's Garden" to the happily bopping "Happy" and the Prince-evoking "Reason to Leave - Alt".

His website provides a schedule of appearances and links to venues.

Gordon previously visited Six Degrees on March 26th of this year, along with Pete Mroz, Rachel Owen, Jim Counter and J.M. Kearns.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Long time since last post . . .

(image stolen and modified by MQMurphy)

You might guess there's been a lot going on. You'd be right. So much to catch up on - we must be somewhere near 200 broadcasts of Six Degrees (the show that keeps the 'tic' in eclectic) by now.

Since last post the Singer/Songwriter Cape May has rolled through town again - March 26th and 27th, 2011 found our little town crawling with old and young instrument-toting folks. It's a delicious and slightly agonizing event - delicious for obvious reasons - agonizing because there's no way to catch it all.

The 3/26/11 Six Degrees show played host to almost half a dozen songwriters who had a history of writing and playing together when they were all living in Nashville. They were reunited for the weekend as a few of them were scheduled to perform at SS Cape May. The show featured live performances by Pete Mroz, Gordon Vincent, Rachel Owen, Jim Counter and J.M. Kearns. You might've been one of the lucky folks who caught the impromptu (thanks to Vickie Watson) performance at The Merion Inn on Saturday afternoon.

J.M. Kearns (he who writes books) was also a guest on the Six Degrees "Unlimited New Year's Day" show. JM played a few of his favorite tunes.

JM and Gordon have been playing a lot in the Cape May Area - JM (Mike to his friends) can be heard on a regular basis this Summer at the Pilot House on Tuesday nights, sitting in at the fabulous Barry Tischler-hosted Open Mic on Fridays, hosting Open Mics occasionally at the Mad Batter and appearing with the Song Slingers a couple of times at The Batter this Summer.

Gordon has been making pretty regular appearances at Higher Grounds Coffee House and Hawk Haven Vineyard in Cape May and traveling up to Espressit Coffee House in Haddon Township, NJ for Sunday morning gigs. Gordon also drops in occasionally at the Pilot House Open Mic Night (PHOMN) and pretty much leaves everyone stupefied with his masterful performances.

Me, I've been trying to spend my Sunday mornings doing my favorite kind of research - sitting up in bed with a fine cup of coffee reading my favorite music blogs like Music Fog, the LA Times' Pop and Hiss and the Guardian UK music blog.

Been promising friends that the SixDegrees.FM website would be up soon - still promising. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

SS Cape May - Friday, March 26, 2010

"How can you be in two places at once when you're really nowhere at all?" - Firesign Theatre.

So, this Singer Songwriter Cape May thing swept through town last weekend and I'm still kind of drained and jazzed. Met some great folks - heard some great music - missed some great music, too. (see above, though there wasn't any 'nowhere' to be found this weekend - it was all great. Thank you for letting me tell you that.)

I was so wiped out by the experience (I'm old) that I was even still recovering on Monday from Saturday night's festations. (Festipravities?)

This was go-round #3 for SSCM - it seems to be gaining momentum, and I'm very happy about that. I was a little bummed last year when Julie Gold ("From a Distance") was a no-show at one of the discussions, but I'll get over it eventually. I was really hoping to get some insights on the nuts-and-bolts of a top selling record.

This year featured Nicole Atkins and Steve Forbert as headliners. That's fine, but I missed the headliners because the 'downcard' performers* kept me away from the Congress Hall ballroom to catch performances at venues like the Merion Inn, The Pilot House, The Mad Batter and The Ugly Mug.
(Sorry, east end of town, but I know my limitations by now.)

I started the weekend at the Merion with a couple of friends. The young woman at the piano was earnest but couldn't catch our ears. Before her set ended we headed up to The Pilot House and caught David Falcone - a great guitarist with lots and lots of hair. And craaazy fingers. Good stuff. Caught a few minutes of the John Byrne Band afterwards but didn't stay long because we wanted to entrain another music fan and head to The Brown Room to hear Suzi Ragsdale. Got there a little late but still in time to hear half a dozen wonderful tunes including a song about a plastic Jesus figurine that she dug up in her back yard while setting up a teepee. Suzi produced said figurine from her bag and set him up on the piano - just like a Dashboard Jesus - where he remained for the rest of her set.

I was lured to the Boiler Room (downstairs from the Brown Room) by tales of a Bela Fleck type band (did I hear 'PsychoBela', or did I make that up?) but never really heard them because I was introduced to Keith Burnstein and Ethan Shorter (of The Mumbles) and Sabrina Chap. These fine folks had come all the way down from Brooklyn to appear at SSCM - we chatted for a while and I was deeply impressed with their matter-of-fact low hype vibe. Pictures were taken and I promised Keith that I would seriously try to do a phone interview with him the next morning. So what if I'd never done one before? BTW - after doing a bit of homework I'm convinced that Six Degrees has got a "Brooklyn" show in its future.

We ended the evening back at the Merion but Jesse Lynn, the last performer, had finished and was chatting with Vickie Watson and George Mesterhazy about ghosts. Everyone at the bar who had seen a ghost, or knew someone who had seen a ghost, or even knew what a ghost was threw in their two cents worth and we wished Jesse an uneventful night.

I stayed for a bit, chatting with Vickie and George and Glenn McBrearty and bar manager Carol Queenan before heading home to spend a couple of hours (ouch!) getting Saturday's Six Degrees show together.

Next post: Saturday Morning - Saturday Night 3/27/2010

* I swear that I've heard that term referring to the 'lesser' bouts at a boxing match, but I'll be damned if I can find a boxing slang site that'll back me up!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Michael Kearns

I've been listening to "Death or Life" - the disk from Michael Kearns and the Lonely Mammals for a few weeks now. Got it from a friend, which is also the way I like to get books. Someone gets an idea of your tastes and says,  "I think you'll like this . . . ".

Well, I like it. A happy find - Michael has a great touch. From sweet ballads like "And Then Some" to wry rockers like "Lose My Job" and bittersweet school-of-life songs like "Nashville Will Teach You" and "A little Rain", Michael and his backing band The Lonely Mammals are masters of the genre we've been calling Americana.
In the true spirit of that genre, this album is the band and their guests actually playing and singing together. (Says so right in the liner notes " . . . recorded the old fashioned way. We all played at once.") 
I haven't got anything against highly produced studio artifacts - it's just that there is something more human (more Mammalian?) about a roomful of people playing and singing together.
Comparisons? How about Neil Young ("That Much Love")? Todd Snider ("Lose My Job")? Maybe even Johnny Cash ("Shortcut to Arthur").

I've been working these tunes into the show for the last few weeks. Hard to believe this is a first effort. Of course, Mike spent a lot of time producing disks for other folks - I hope he'll find the time to bring us more of his own gems soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Headline: DJ Gets Older!

(MQMurphy photo)

This Saturday's show (10/31/09) is The DeeJay's Choice Show.
It’s the DeeJay’s choice because the deejay turns 58 on the 30th. Forty years ago in 1969 I was eighteen.
In 1969.
God – for how many of us did it seem like we’d never find our way out of those years from 16 to 18?

For some reason the Byrds tune "Eight Miles High" has become something I've focused on in this playlist.

Tunes like Eight Miles High – you heard them – they mixed the rock and roll that you knew with the jazz that you didn’t know and the images of faraway places – “Rain gray town, known for its sound - in places, small faces unbound” - Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Gene Clark.

That tune was written in 1965. It was all new. Small Faces – that phrase became the name of a rock and roll band. There was so much going on – everything influenced everything else, it seemed.

This, from Wikipedia:

Jim McGuinn's twelve-string guitar playing, particularly the introductory solo, was inspired by John Coltrane's saxophone playing on the song "India" from his 1963 Impressions album.[3] McGuinn is very guarded of the effort that went into his approximation of Coltrane's technique to guitar.[citation needed] The song is driven along by Chris Hillman's bass line, while the rhythm guitar work by Crosby and fast drumming of Michael Clarke add dramatic turbulence. In a 1966 promotional interview, which was added to the 1996 CD re-issue of the Fifth Dimension album, Crosby said that the song's ending made him "feel like a plane landing".

Coltrane’s “India” – on Impressions – was a live recording from sessions at the Village Vanguard in November of 1961.

I didn’t know where that melody had come from – all the times I listened to the cut – but you knew – we teenagers knew - there was something there that you hadn’t heard before.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fill 'er up.

This morning I looked at the NY Times and there was an article about the 'cash-for-clunkers' program and how it is such a success that it has run out of money already. The article was titled "Running on Empty".
I got to thinking about how the phrase ‘running on empty’ is linked – for many of us – with the song by Jackson Browne. I believe that the phrase predates the song, but the song made it real – gave it an additional ‘concrete-ness’ – in a way that enriches and extends its allusions.
I’d love to write a song like that – one that would become woven into the culture’s psyche in a permanent way. Also, it’d be nice to get the checks.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Past and the Future

The “Past and the Future” Show

Reading through a 30+ year old New Yorker magazine – looking at the ads, thinking about how these were predictions – in a way – about what we’d be using and doing as time went on. Some of those things are just gone. Some of the ads are kind of quaint.
I think there’s a show in this idea. The not-so-distant past and the future it anticipated as seen through the ads and the articles in a popular magazine.