Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New Music Sounding Fondly Familiar

So many new artists and groups hitting the charts in the past couple of years are familiar in a comfortable way. Some artists seem to be trending toward a more Folksy vibe. Consider Monsters of Folk, Mumford and Sons and The Avett Brothers.

Monsters of Folk's formation, exemplifies the bonding that brings music lovers together. At the time the group was named in 2004, all members were with other groups or working on solo projects which ultimately delayed the release of their first album until 2009: Jim James from My Morning Jacket, Mike Mogis & Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes and Portland guitarist M. Ward, had frequently encountered each other while on tour, at times sharing the same stage & often sat around backstage, just making music. The title of Monsters of Folk's "Baby Boomer" actually reflects my point quite well, as do these lyrics: "We don't agree about September, could we agree on Vietnam?" This catchy tune reminds me of the 60's & 70's folk music that was a signature of the Baby Boomer generation. An alchemy of sound & the individual styles of its 4 members, imbibe country, folk & bluegrass of old, yet manage to still sound fresh and new.

In the Avett Brothers' "Laundry Room" , its lyrics "I am a breathing time machine" reflect that indeed the Avett Brothers are like a musical time machine. Their banjo, guitar and harmonies are reminiscent of the Travelling Wilburys and celebrate the loving act of making music. Brothers Scott & Seth Avett from North Carolina, joined by bassist Bob Crawford, create folksy tracks infused with pop, rock, bluegrass, honky-tonk, ragtime & country overtones, creating music which sometimes defies description!

With lyrics like "Lend me your hand and we'll conquer them all", Mumford & Sons "Awake My Soul" can be likened to the social awareness of the 60's & 70's. The strains of guitar, the lyrical harmonies & a banjo building up the bridge, are all elements of folk, country & bluegrass which are delivered with such enthusiasm by these four 20-something young men from West London. Its hard not to be drawn in by the heart-warming & relevant stories their lyrics tell. In spite of the familial ties the name of the group might suggest, its members are not related. They are four friends - Marcus Mumford, Country Winston, Ben Lovett & Ted Dwane, who had performed individually around London with various bands before joining forces in 2007.

The music of all three examples above, brings me back to a time of innocence in my own life, sitting backstage during summer stock theatre's rehearsal breaks, singing and playing the guitar with friends who LOVED music as much as I did. We brought harmony to life, & celebrated friendships through our shared passion for making music, much like the basis for the creation of all three of these groups.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Day the Music Stopped

Welcome to my FIRST blog! Thank you for taking the time to read a novice's verbal meandering. If you like what you read, I hope you'll subscribe!

May name is Pamela - and I am addicted to music. I have been since the day I was born (so my mother told me!). I'm certain that my 1st words were sung rather than spoken. I can remember providing the entertainment for my Mom's weekly Bunco club gatherings when a small child, singing songs. I taught myself to play the piano by ear, because I wanted to PLAY what I'd heard my older siblings spin on their record players. My siblings and I performed in musical theatre from the time I was 7.

So many of my fondest childhood memories revolve around music. My parents kept the home filled with music! Though neither parent sang, all of us children excelled, vocally. We entertained ourselves by putting records on the LP player. We would march around the family room to the strains of John Philip Sousa's marches, or danced the Cha Cha and the Waltz. If not in school or rehearsal for a play or musical, all of my time was spent sitting with friends, strumming the guitar and singing favorite tunes. When my parents separated & subsequently divorced, I covered my ears with a set of headphones and rarely surfaced from listening to the saddest music I could find. Somehow it consoled my wounded psyche.

I could not IMAGINE life without music! To say I lived and breathed it, would be an understatement. My memories are forever tied to the music I loved at the time whichever event transpired.

All of that changed one day in September, 1996. Only it took me more than two years to realize that the music had stopped for me on the day my mom - who was also my best friend - was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Although my career had taken me nearly two thousand miles away from her and the rest of my close-knit family, we still talked daily.

It wasn't until more than 2 years after her death, that I even REALIZED that not only had my Mom died, the music had left me, had left my heart and soul, the music too, had died. When that realization hit me, I was filled with such a palpable grief, it is hard for me to articulate. How could I have spent the past 2+ years without EVER sitting down at the piano? How did I make it through 760 days without ever singing a note? How is it possible that I never once listened to my extensive music library or turned on a favorite FM radio station? Why had I deprived myself of the JOY of music? As music has always been tied to the best memories of my life, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that it disappeared during the worst grief of my life.

Even after that realization, I didn't rush to the piano or burst into song. It still took a long time before the music was truly resurrected.

This lengthy story lays the groundwork for one of the most amazing music related discoveries I've ever experienced - What is If you don't know yet - it is a music sharing web-site (free!) where people can PLAY or purchase music while connecting with other music lovers across the globe. I joined in early December, 2008 and quickly became a addict! re-ignited the musical flame for me. The joy of rediscovering my old favorite songs was akin to reuniting with an old lover. Blip also introduced me to a lot of the new music I had missed during my musical embargo. I've been like a kid in a candy store since joining

If you're a music lover and haven't already experienced, you can join by clicking here, I would love to see you on the Blip-stream!

In future blogs, I will focus on individual artists or groups that have grabbed my attention. I'd love to hear from YOU about the music you're loving these days! Please leave your comment below! That's another of the joys of - discovering new music! Lets take that musical journey together!