I 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.
I 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.
I 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
Kids 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/
The 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.
I spend Thursdays researching my guests – looking at their websites, their PR packages, their twitter feeds, their Facebook and Instagram sites and, most importantly, listening to their music. This is always a rewarding experience, but sometimes it can get a little routine, a little soporific. Not so yesterday. I had Van Wilks 21st Century Blues album coming through the studio’s speakers, with the heavy base woofers tuned up a bit to vibrate my bones. Van Wilks is the very epitome of Texas blues and I think, one of the best high-octane blues guitarists in the country, following in the footsteps of Texas greats like Stevie Ray Vaughn, ZZ Top, Jonny Winter and others. Like them, Wilks blows the blues apart with an electrics guitar and then reassembled it into something unique and even more beautiful.
The Americans play original rock and roll with a roots twist - something a little different. They have been on The Late Show with David Letterman, played with Grammy and Oscar winners like Ryan Bingham and entertained at Reese Witherspoon's wedding. They appeared in the PBS/BBC program American Epic, recorded a song for Hal Wimer's Son of Rogue's Gallery and music for the Texas Killing Fields. And they are playing live, her in LA, joining last week's guest laura Jean Anderson at her CD release party next week. But first, they get to talk to us.
Tracy Newman is a radio journalist's dream come true. A comedy writer with a sharp site and funny stories, she is a guaranteed great guest. A folk singer since she was 16, she has great songs and stories. What else could a DJ ask for? Not much.
Tracy Newman grew up in my hometown, Los Angeles and started playing guitar as a teen, sitting on the diving board of her family’s pool (of course they had a pool, this is LA!). Back then she was influenced by one of my favourites, the Kingston Trio, and she could actually play some of their songs, especially “Tom Dooley” which has only two chords.
After high school, Tracy wanted to be a folksinger, but her parents insisted she go to college. She went to the U of A in Tucson and quickly dug up the “folk” community, stopped attending college and was playing on street corners for money which freaked out her mother who dragged her back to LA for “help.” The therapist kept nodding off during Tracy’s sessions - he couldn’t relate to an upper-middle-class teenage girl who just wanted to be a folksinger.
In the early 70s, she joined an improvisation class which became The Groundlings, and began teaching and directing there. (Her sister, Laraine Newman was discovered there by Lorne Michaels for Saturday Night Live.) Tracy met her future TV writing partner, Jonathan Stark and started on Cheers, and moved on to many classic TV shows, including Bob (Bob Newhart), The Nanny, Ellen, The Drew Carey Show and Hiller and Diller (Richard Lewis and Kevin Nealon.)
In 1997, they won the Emmy and the Peabody Award for writing the ground-breaking “coming out” episode of Ellen. In 2001, they created the ABC comedy, According to Jim. But during all of this Tracy kept writing songs and is once again performing full-time. She has three CDs: A Place in the Sun, I Just See You and a children's album, I Can Swing Forever. Her current band, The Reinforcements, is made up of Gene Lippmann (guitar and vocal), John Cartwright (bass), Paula Fong (vocal), Doug Knoll (drums) and Cary DiNigris (guitar.)
I have been listening to this song and watching the video. so wonderful.
Maggie Szabo continues her march to stardom with a new release, "Forgive and Forget" at the BalconTV-sponsored release party for the single and the new video. Maggie stepped onto a stage flooded with red light emphasizing her hot red dress and ignited a packed crowd already warmed up by the Givers and Takers. She kicked off the set with her hit single "Tidal Waves and Hurricanes" and continued non-stop to wrapping up with the new song, "Forgive and Forget". An athlete as well as a singer/songwriter, her energy never flagged and her smile and connection with the audience stayed rock solid for over an hour.
If you click on the video below you will enjoy a conversation with Kenny Big Daddy Williams, blues player, father of a blues player, radio host and owner of Kenny's Music Store in Dana Point CA, know nationwide to artists for its wide selection of top quality instruments and their music training programs. He is a character, in the best sense of the word, and I was so lucky to be able to sit down with him - and his wife and co-store owner, Kimberly - at NAMM where he has been on the top 100 music store list for two years. Enjoy!