Saturday, February 27, 2016

I've got so much honey, the bees envy me

Bunny Wailer, 2014 
Reggae is a musical genre with Jamaican roots dating back to the 1960’s. Before that time, reggae was in its infancy, gaining influence from calypso, American jazz, rhythm, blues, New Orleans R & B and even artists like Fats Domino (pretty cool, huh?). Reggae blossomed into a genre of its own and evolved further out of ska and rocksteady to become the unique sound style it is today.

Reggae is a musical method that is heavily reliant on the bass guitar as percussion. Peppered elements of African music, jazz, and blues interweave, while performers characteristically sing of political woes, religion, social criticism, and love’s confusion. An often off-beat rhythm and upbeat tempo create a thick, yet buoyant musical texture that transports the listener to an easy breezy beachy place.

Close your eyes, let the music take you to a wood-floored tiki hut, tasty beverage in hand, friends chillin’, volleyball in the distance, groovy feelings, shorts, no shoes, hammock swinging, as you look up at the evening sky and relax in utter bliss to a live reggae lullaby. 

Toots & the Maytals
Bob Marley, Kingston
Kingston, Jamaica 

Friday, February 19, 2016

If you're going to love somebody, pleeeaasseee let it be me

For a large part of his life, Magic Slim’s music was vastly underrated. Gradually, as his fans outweighed his detractors, people became captivated by Slim’s off-the-cuff shredfests. “Blues Band of the Year” awards began pouring in … year, after year, after year and now, he is a legend.  

His intricate licks satiate the bellies of his blues-hungry listeners, while his soulful vibrato takes us back to his roots – the front porches, docks, and swamps of Grenada Mississippi.  The son of sharecroppers, Magic Slim grew up in Mississippi playing piano until he lost his little finger in a cotton gin accident. Despite being down a pinky, he didn’t miss a beat and picked up the bass and guitar. Slim matured into renowned Chicago Blues artist, with Scufflin (1998), Snakebite (2000), and Blue Magic (2002) as some of his most celebrated albums.

Check out the “Blues Legends: Magic Slim” compilation album on Spotify. Without a single skip-worthy track, it’ll satisfy any blues appetite. And it pairs beautifully with a glass of single malt scotch.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Everybody from miles around are here in town, to break 'em down

Caravan Palace & Swing

French electro-swing masters, Caravan Palace, topped the charts in Europe in 2009 with their album Caravan Palace for 68 straight weeks. Alas, it was only a matter of time before their music captivated lower-body-dancing Lindy-Hop-loving Americans.

Musical historians, like Caravan Palace, take us back to the origins of swing music – Harlem in the 1930s. African Americans, with knocking ankles and twisting torsos, flung dance partners over their lower backs and hips in attics and smokey underground music venues. What began as improvisation turned into a new contagion of expression called “swing.”  Originally referred to simply as “the jitterbug,” swing music took hold of Harlem in the 30’s and exploded. Now, it has resurfaced in millennials that revel in music’s gift of time travel.

Moral of the story? Listen to Caravan Palace and dance the colors of the wind. Your free-style dancing in the attic, with equally liberated pals, could change the music of a century.