Music Friday Blog

  • Eric Zayne interview

    Eric_zayne_._green_shirt._hat300sq.jpgWe had a litle chat on the air about music, women and the new album.

    I first met Eric Zayne at a pre-Grammy concert in LA over a year ago and took to him immediately. Open, honest, friendly, high energy and an explosive talent for song writing, performance and concepts that makes him unique, even in this town of highly talented people.  .  Originally from the Congo, he settled in Canada after fleeing violence in his home country and then in 2013, dived into the huge pop and rock scene here in LA. Next thing you know out came the hit singles “Spin the World” and “Maneater”, a knock out video and an EP --  plus killer performances both here and abroad. Now he is back and about ready to release a new album. He sent me a few of the finished songs and they are dynamite.  He stopped by for a chat before going back into the studio to get the new album out by April.

     Patrick. Eric, what have you been doing since we talked last…where have you been?

     Eric. Oh my god.  I can’t remember all the places I have been working really hard.  I do remember that when we talked last I had just released “Neptune”  - which was on  and old EP.  All of the songs on this album are new which are not released yet – you are the first to hear them.  We are shooting a video for the first song, “Emergency” on the 29th and it should be released sometime in April.  I had a great 2016- I signed with a great, great manager who knows a lot of the right people and we just signed a publishing deal with the President of SONY in New York.  We are planning a big single release for “Emergency” and I am so excited.

     Patrick.  Why do you work so hard?

     Eric. I have just had my head in the sand away from the public to write this new EP.  I hear how the music should be but I don’t want to do it all myself, but when you have a vision it is hard to find people who care about it as much as I do.  So I did almost all of it myself.  I did the production, the song writing, I played all the instruments I engineered it.  I begged for people to take some roles – some did, but it was a huge amount of work to reach the level I see in my vision.  I am coming up for air and will do some shows now.

     Patrick. From what I have heard I think you have a hit on your hands here. One of the songs you sent me is “She’s a Fire”.  It is full of brilliant musical craftsmanship – it is a great combination of addictive arrangement and intriguing lyrics.  Who is she that is a fire?

     Eric. She is never to be spoken about…a name you don’t speak.  We had a very passionate relationship, a little on the edge, a little bit dangerous.

     Patrick.  You sing a lot about women, and frequently from a unique point of view, like “Maneater” or your 2014 remake of “My Girl”.  How do women fit into your conceptual music universe?

     Eric.  I would say women are the driving force of my life – a major force in my life.  We are all looking for another half and for me I am always looking for a home, that other half to complete me.  I am out here doing this by myself and I feel like I am on an island and I write about this concept, about that l.

     Patrick.  Another new song, “Emergency” is a real grabber – what inspired it?

     Eric.  A relationship – we just couldn’t have any peace, it was always war, the passion was so strong.  She creates the chaos and I come to the rescue.

     Patrick.  You played at the LA Fashion week and you met a Warmkins.  How was that?

     Eric.  Yes, I just did the Fashion Week which was a huge event.  A friend of mine runs it and he asked me to open the show and I met the Warmkins people there and I loved getting my picture taken with the monkey.  They are a very, very good organization. Fashion Week is very intense…I felt like Zoolander.  There were thousands of people lining up around the runway and there I was …it was lights, camera action.  Such a trip.

     Patrick. You have a new song coming out “No Church for Me”.  Isn’t the studio your church?

     Eric.   This is a song that is very important to me because I grew up in a multi-cultural family in the Congo.  I evacuated when I was a kid and since I was 11 years old I have been moved around to different countries and different families, different cultures.  I have watched others have a best friend or high school memories or  a religion – they had a center I have never had that. I would feel alienated from that culture.  I know I am not the only one who feels that way.  It talks about people who don’t fit in…who compromise their own truth to fit into what’s there.

     Patrick.  So April for the album?

     Eric.  Yes.  I want everything to be right.  But once we shoot the video, we will be ready.

     Patrick.  Thank you…it is always a pleasure

     Eric.  Thank you.  

     

    hear the full interview at http://bit.ly/1URe2AT

     

    http://bit.ly/1URe2AT

  • The music business is not working and maybe Jayson Won can fix it.

    jayson_won_at_office300.jpg Let me give you a little background.

    Everyone agrees that the internet has profoundly changed the music industry. John Mellencamp has said that the internet is “the atomic bomb that destroyed the music business.”  Stevie Nicks has stated flatly that “the internet has destroyed rock.” And many, many others – artists, producers, even venues all complain that the music industry is broken and it is the internet’s fault. 

    Are they right? We are going to ask Jayson Won this Friday. Jayson is the founder of World Arts, a new approach to the music biz.

    There is history here we need cover first. Before Napster burst on the scene in 1999 and iTunes in 2004, people assumed you paid for music, just like you pay for movies or plays or the beer you drank at concerts – which you also paid for.  Napster introduced the idea that music is free on the internet;  iTunes broke up the album so if you did pay, it was less than a dollar for only the song you wanted. Then SoundCloud and Pandora and Spotify and Bittorrent took it to the limit creating a world in which you streamed or downloaded music for free – you never had to pay for it again if you didn't want to, and millions didn't want to.

    But if the internet has made music free, how do emerging bands ever get out of the garage?  The answer is usually, thanks to the internet they don’t need to. But it is not that simple, which is where Won comes in. He is providing an all-encompassing platform that lets bands bypass the big record company gatekeepers and provides all the resources they need besides the internet to get out of the garage.

    Emerging bands can and do build fan bases online. To pay the rent, they leverage those fans to bring in money at gigs, sell CD’s, collect from google ads on their sites and YouTube channels and earn (very) micro-payments for Spotify streams. And maybe a few will license a song to a TV show or commercial. But if you are an emerging band and you don’t have a six- figure twitter and Instagram following yet, those live gigs will pay in “exposure”, or you may end up actually paying the club.  CD sales at gigs pay the bar bill, but usually not much else. You need more.  you need production space, videos, adivce and mentoring and a way for people - both fans and industry folks - to see you.

     But there isn't a way for emerging bands to get those resources.  The result is the music biz has become a vacuum – no one is making any money, or rather a few people are making money but life is pretty cash-empty if you are not Taylor Swift or Drake. Vacuums must be filled, in nature and in business.  Entrepreneurs have emerged to fill this vacuum with new models for the music industry. One of the most interesting and active of those ideas is Won’s World Arts, an entity so new and unique it doesn’t really have a name.  It combines a brick and mortar venue with a recording studio and video production and online concerts and Periscope broadcasts and sponsorship of music events and live shows, songwriting classes, interviews and a global meetup platform –  everything artists, fans and even music industry execs need and want.  And it pays the bands.

     How this all works, and more importantly, where it fits in the music biz and how it will change the biz, is topic of a conversation Music FridayLive will have this week with Jason Won, Executive Creative Director & COO, World Arts. Jayson is a drummer, a designer, a producer and a visionary.  And he is making waves. Don’t miss this show.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Junk Parlor’s new Melusina album: dangerous, wild, fun.

    junk_parlor._harvells._3.2016._smoke_._head300.jpgGypsy rock and roll.  Sounds dangerous.  Actually it is dangerous but a lot of fun.  And no one does it better than Junk Parlor, as their latest album, Melusina demonstrates.  Melusina is like taking a drug – a big rush, continuing high, then addiction, often accompanied by dancing.  True to its Melusina namesake, the twin-tailed mermaid long used as a symbol in alchemy to represent female sexuality and the dual nature of humanity, the album is a combination of wild abandon, joyful cavorting and dark tales.   

    Junk Parlor’s founder and leader, Jason Vanderford, has conjured a gypsy-cadenced album that recalls the classic belly dance LP's of Ala Turk or Radio Bastet and mixed them with instrumental gypsy folk melodies and a touch of rock.  He weaves this bubbling concoction together with his howling, haunting voice and cinematic lyrics. The result is a unique music form that you just can’t get out of you head. But then, why would you want to?

    Melusina unfurls in ten songs, some instrumental and some lyrical.  Opening with the high octane Macedonia gypsy traditional dance tune “Majstore Majstore,” it flows naturally into a second instrumental, the Vanderford-written traditional sounding song, "Loverfish". The notes of ‘Loverfish roll out, painting a picture of women dancing by firelight on the beach as the Melusina watches from her perch on a rock offshore, illuminated by the flickering firelight.

    The title song “Melusina” rises full length from the sea as Vanderford tells the story in his spookiest voice and drummer R.T. Goodrich’s snare drum and Tim Bush’s bass propels us forward.  “Melusina”  also introduces the violin of Hanna Mignano, a welcome new addition to the band. She is a classical violinist with a ring in her nose that tells you she is not quite what her 12 years of study with a Romanian master violinist would lead you to expect. Mignano adds a color and depth and a  jazz-like quality that moves the already high altitude talent of Junk Parlor into the stratosphere.

    “Alphabet City” starts with a sharp downbeat on the Cajon and then goes dancing and swirling.  This is a happy song, a party song that just wants to spin and jump – no story, no artifice, no emotion except joy.

    “Golden Earring,” written by Victor Young, downshifts with a slow plaintive guitar that carries the story deep in its notes rather than explicitly in lyrics.  Next, the traditional dance song, “Gold Star Academy” brings the pace back to a wild dance level which shifts again with ‘Into Dust”,  a more modern, stripped down and almost-blues arrangement carrying a story related by Vanderford while he is backgrounded by a simple strum and a frame drum or riq.

    “Into Dust” gets under your skin and then shoots up with a bridge that tightens you stomach muscles (among others), and moves into a slipstream with Mignano’s emotion-laden strings. The conjoining of the Mignano’s violin and Vanderford’s voice is almost scary, so much so that you want to play it again just to make sure you heard what you think you heard.

    Vanderford lets you recuperate with some good old fashioned 4/4 rock in ‘Treehouse” with R.T. moving the rhythm on a Cajon and Jason carrying the melody on an electric guitar played with 50’s style and flamenco finesse.  Pay particular attention to the percussion on “Treehouse” as drummer R.T. Goodrich moves the Cajon and a variety of other percussion instruments to the fore in solos and breakdowns as well serving as the backbone of the piece.

    Goodrich continues the Cajon into “High Desert” as the band add shakers, finger cymbals and a perfectly pitched bassline scaffolding Jason’s finger picking. The album wraps us with “Procession of Kardar”  written in the 19th century by the Russian composer, Mikael Ippolitov-Ivano, and still fresh today in the hands (and riq drum and guitar) of Vanderford and the band.

    While Melusina is directed at fans not only of Junk Parlor, but also of  Trad and European folk, and gypsy music, Vanderford has put together a range of songs and a level of playing and production that lifts this album over the genre lines into a broader market of people who love to dance or even just tap their feet to really good wild sound. I, for one, am one of them.

     

     

  • Los Hollywood at Club Los Globos: electrified and electrifying.

    lOS_hOLLYWOOD__at_Los_Globos._300sq.jpgI love to drop by Club Los Globos – there is always a hot ALM (American Latin Music) band and a surprise.  The surprise Sunday night – for me at least – was Los Hollywood.  Wow!  I don’t know if this was punk, rock, pop or a mashup of all of the above, but it was bass-led, chica-led electrifying fun.

     Heidy Flores, Gustavo Mojica, Mark “Marcos” Mondragon and Chuy Garcia kept the audience clapping, rocking, smiling and  happy through their entire set.  With songs like “Cucu”, “Te Busco”  and “Hasta Manana” plus a  sampler of new songs, they were a as much fun as Heidy’s flirtatious eyes which fixed on various audience members as she took a rock-solid  wide stance on center stage, leading the band with her bass guitar.

     The set was bi-lingual, as was the audience, and Flores switched back and forth in language as she connected with her Latino and gringo fans, demonstrating a stage presence that was both intimate and commanding. Combining Latin rhythms and British and American pop rock, they  demonstrated why they have blazed a trail unique in the ALM category… their first  single, "No Te Aguites"  was song of the week on iTunes Latino with 60,000 downloads.

     As they cruised through their set with new and old songs, including “Nobody Knows”, “Que Me Lleve el Diablo”,  “ Renacer” and “Te Busco”, I could not help thinking that Flores is a star waiting to happen and the band is a breakthrough on the edge.  The songs are compelling, the music is tight, the band is polished, personable and knows how to connect with an audience while it lays down extraordinary beats. And most of all, each song is a jewel in itself, carefully crafted and then freed to swirls through the crowd like a rainbow colored hurricane.

     Flores herself is the epitome of ALM – born and raised in San Diego with Mexico and California deep in her musical blood, she has teamed up with her songwriting partner from Mexico, Mark Mondragon, to bring to earth her musical vision that blends the ranchero music she listened to as a child with British pop like the Beatles and the voice of her favorite female singer, Canadian Alanis Morissette. The final concoction is electrical and electrifying; there is nothing like it.

     I have already put Los Hollywood songs on my fav playlist, and they keep me moving and thinking throughout my day.  Soon, I expect the entire country will be doing the same.

     

     

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZlJa07Wu2o&feature=youtu.be

  • Sin Color at Club Los Globos: present at the creation.

    at_mic._stand_up300sq.jpgI love seeing the birth of a great band at the very beginning, which is what I think I witnessed last night at Club Los Globos on the edge of Hollywood with Sin Color, the South LAduo of singer Crisia Regalado and multi-instrumentalist David Aquino, plus a kick-ass backing band of drummer Nico Curiel, bass player David Campos and the incredibly talented synth/bongo player Ivan McCormick.

    Sin Color (“Without Color” – a misnomer if there ever was one) has burst on the American Latin Music scene in Los Angles, transforming traditional styles of music into pop soundscapes. Lead singer Regalado, who at 19 isn’t actually old enough to be in the Los Globos club, trained in opera singing since she was ten years old.  Like  LA’s other classically trained Latina, pianist Irene Diaz, she puts her training work combining operatic singing with pop sensibilities and songwriting. 

     Combined with Aquino’s deft guitar and keyboard chops, the two of them create their own unique sound. Sin Color  mixes bossa nova, cumbia, and disco into indie pop song which are the opposite of sugary confection. Danceable – yes; but also meaningful and delivered with an intensity that surprises the audience when comes from the diminutive Regalado. And they are just beginning – only one song up on SoundCloud plus a handful of live and cellphone videos, with the lyric “Pergunto” giving a first class example of their talent..

     Because of the paucity of recorded music, Sin Color fans, who are growing, have to enjoy them live, which is getting easier as Sin Color is working their way through the hot spots for ALM and Chicano pop music in LA, and beyond. They have mesmerized audiences at events and venues such as Dark Nights at L.A. Live, Día de Los Muertos at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the East Los Angeles Art Walk, The Moltaban Theater, Plaza de Cultura y Artes, Los Globos, and Boyle Heights favorites, M-Bar, Mariachi Plaza, and Eastside Luv. The act is polished and tight, even with a fresh band. Their appearance last night at legendary Los Globos signals that these two are stepping out and ready for the bigger time.

    Keep your eyes on Sin Color.  They have a ways to go before they settle down into a consistent configuration, what they are doing now is tight and dynamite.  See them live while you can still afford the tickets.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • El Dusty brings his Tejano turntable mixes to Music Friday

    ElDusty1bike_real_300sq.jpgI am so happy to have El Dusty on the show this week.  As my regular listeners know, I am fascinated with the fusion between Latino music and rock and rap and hip-hop – what I call American Latin Music. We mostly focus on bands and mostly from California, which used to be Mexico and has had Spanish music since the 1700’s, long before the so-called “Cuban invasion” in the 1940’s in New York.

     But another state used to be Mexican – Texas.  Texas has a long history of Latino music.  Tejano – the name for Texan-Mexican music-- has roots going back to the 1800’s .  It is a mashup of waltzes and polkas of Eastern European settlers in Texas who encountered the conjunto music, and especially the accordion, along with the corrido and mariachi music from Mexico

     That music, which exploded with Selena and other artists in the late 20th Century is now morphing again, this time with rap, and turntables and sampling and the cumbia from Columbia that is sweeping through the Americas.  DJ and nu-cumbia pioneer El Dusty from Corpus Christi, my birthplace, takes the southern border music of Texas swirls it in MPC 2000 Samplers, blending clips of Latino beats, cumbia, rap, rock and hip and 808 drums into barrio anthems that rock audiences, gringo and Latino alike.

     His music is magical and crunchy, inspiring and growling, smooth and raw.  But most of all, it is exciting and El Dusty represents a new form of genius emerging from the tough streets of bodegas, taquerias and immigration lawyers. His new EP, Trapanera, is ground breaking. He joins us this Friday at 11:30 am PT and we will have fun.

     

     

  • Dirty Revival...finally landed them

    dirty_revival_close_up_330_sq.jpgI saw this band, Dirty Revival, over a month ago when they were on a swing through Hollywood.  iI was at the club for someone else and had never heard of them.  Whew!  These seven people could fill a stadium with happy, hopping soul rock.  Belting voices, hot horns, superb drumming, guitar chops - you name it, they've got it. Six white dudes and an African American woman with a voice like Bessie Smith, they have been Portland Oregon's secret for too long.  I am so happy they were in LA, that I saw them and that their tour schedule has a break in it so they can come on the show.

     Lead singer and founder Sarah Clarke will join us, possibly with one of her bandmates for what I know is going to be too much fun.  She is a character - hell, the whole band is a character- and we are going to talk, play music, laugh and have a good time on air.

     

     

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pjw-qzT6qBs

  • Amy Loftus gives us new songs at Molly Malone’s in her sweet, easy way

    amy_happy_belts._300sq.jpgI have been listening to LA-based country singer Amy Loftus for over a year now.  She appeared on my radio show last May to announce the release of her most recent album,  That Whole Entire Time.  She completely charmed the audience – and me – with her glowing voice and welcoming manner.  She was the girl next door who happened to sing brilliantly, play the guitar and front a kick-ass country rock band.

     Well, it turns out she is the girl next door – or just a mile or so away from our studio -- so I decided to make the short trip to the legendary Molly Malone’s in Hollywood to see her live.  Was I ever happy I did!  Amy’s seven-song set, delivered in her sweet, easy way,  put my mind in pillows and carried me away to many, many nice places.

     Perched on a dark stage, her gold-silver hair shinning in a single spotlight, Amy welcomed us, appropriately with “Hello”, a new song that took full advantage of her angelic voice and beauty. From there, she picked up the pace with the hook-laden  “Freeway”, one of my favorites from her Better album. She moved on to “That Whole Time” from the new album, but delivering it with the singular purity of just her voice and guitar.  

     As the applause died down after “That Whole Time”, she gave us one of her brilliant, mischievous smiles and delivered a Christmas stocking of new songs: “Fix”, “Wrong and Right”, “Natural Order” and “Follow the Sunshine”.  Her sophistication as a songwriter and downy-smooth voice kept us enthralled.  Paired with her easy connection to the audience and welcoming grace that embraces you even through speakers or earbuds, each song became a lovingly crafted gift, generously given and gratefully received.

     We were especially grateful because she is writing now and opportunities to see her live onstage are rare and precious, even in her adopted home town of LA.  Raised in Chicago, Amy trained as an actress and a dancer with Second City, part of the same class that graduated Tina Fey.  In her career she has worked as a voice-over, commercial, stage and screen actress and earned a  Degree in Art History and Painting. But  singing and songwriting were always her true passion.  That passion took her to Nashville where she honed her songwriting and performance skills, opening  for bands like Christopher Cross and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s John McEuen.

     Now  living in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons, Amy is a prolific producer who has released five albums and recorded soundtracks for films like One for the Money and television shows like Sons of Anarchy.  And she writes a mean blog about step-motherhood.

     A sixth album is bubbling away, possibly with the new songs we heard at Molly Malone’s. I am keeping my eye out for the announcement of a new album or perhaps another live show and will jump on it faster than a Porsche on the Pacific Coast Highway at 3 am.  In the meantime Amy has released one of the new songs, “Follow the Sunshine”, on her website and it is going on my replay list.  She should be on yours. Check her out at amyloftusmusic.com

     

  • "I Can Swing Forever" by Tracy Newman and friends: a magical gift to children and adults.


    tracy_smiling_and_singing300sq.jpgKids just wanna have fun -- or at least that’s what I remember from my childhood.  But they also want to explore and dance and sing and have friends  and sleep and dream. All of that is magically encased in a CD and sing-a-long coloring book produced by the mother-daughter team of Tracy Newman and Charlotte Dean, I Can Swing Forever

    Tracy, who wrote for Cheers and Ellen and other television shows for years while quietly plotting her return to the world of folk music she experience in  her teens and a brief stint in the New Christy Minstrels.  In Swing, she and her daughter and many collaborators have captured perfectly the songs and images of the world parents everywhere want their children to experience before the frenetic entertainments of the world take over.

    The 18 songs on the CD, divided into Playtime and Bedtime, have just the right balance of happy melody and imagination lyrics that create pictures in a child’s mind.  The sum total conjures up a world – by no means all imaginary – that parents can sing to their children, children can sing to their parents and sing with their friends.  Some songs are old, some not, but they all sprout flowers, moonbeams and rainbows from the speakers.

    I love it that the lyrics of the title song,  “I can Swing Forever” include dad – he can swing forever in the song too.  Without being preachy, I think swinging forever with mom or dad is just what a child today needs after seeing snatches of the news over her parents shoulder or hearing it on the radio in the carpool (see Tracy’s album,  I Just See You for her thoughts on that suburban institution) 

    Especially joyful is “Piccolo Mini”  in which Tracy and her child accompanist, Millie Auslender, sing as fast as they can until they break down into giggles. “Jumpa Jumpa Jumpa”  takes children jumping free over the mountain and over the sea to feed horses and milk cows with one hand, something they just can’t do with a TV cartoon show, especially if mom or dad is there singing with them. Tracy and Charlotte manage to slip in some French, “Ah Si Mon Moine” with a child chorus singing with them ..…  maybe a subversive message  is that sure, you can sing in French, and maybe learn to speak it too.

     But it is not quite all fun and games, “Pick Up Your Clothes” is self-explanatory but even there Tracy adds a twinkle and a bit of grandmotherly advice.  She points out, “your body is young and close  to the ground so it is so darn easy to bend down”.  Even more fun is when grandma “pops” – the silly, but serious consequences  (like eating your food with the dog on the floor if you don’t pick up your clothes) remind children to love their moms more than one day in May

    The bedtime songs bring back memories of camp songs I sang with my daughter when she was child –  our personal version of “Run Along Home”  was often the beginning of the campfire ritual. From there Tracy and her daughter carry a child through various stages to bed – tired, drowsy,  almost asleep, and finally cruising into dreamland with “Sleep in My Arms” and “Things Are What Seem (Time to Sleep).

    Tracey, her daughter, her band and her many collaborators on I Can Swing Forever have given a magical gift to parents and children everywhere.   Don’t be afraid to color outside the lines while you sing and laugh with it.

    Tracy Newman and Friends   I Can Swing Forever CD and coloring book   http://tracynewman.com/albums/

     

     

     

     

     

  • Northwest Soul comes to LA. My Brothers and I

    mybrothersandI_coverart_300.jpgThe Portland-based band My Brothers and I are often called “Northwest Soul”  and for good reason.  They do soul, but it feels as well rocks.  It is not quite R&B, not quite pure soul, not quite pop, so Northwest Soul sums it up and also lets us know that something new and important is happening in the land of granola and rain. That new thing is melodic, soulful, and danceable music that blends pop, hip-hop, the blues, Motown, funk and R&B. It is music made by the three brothers and two friends in a quintet initially released a digital EP, Live Sessions and have just released their debut first full-length LP, Don’t Dream Alone. We will play samples when we talk to two of the brother this Friday, Scott and Eric Wurgler.