Now I ain’t sayin. Go ahead. Get down.

Lately drum and bass have been occupying my mind. All I can think about is the beat. I mean, apparently there are an unlimited number of ways to count to four. How am I ever going to explore all of them?

Let’s get started with Ray Charles. He pioneered soul music in the 1950s. How? By combining blues, R&B and gospel styles (aka beats) into his music. And 50 years later, one of his most notable hits “I Got a Woman” lives on. Wikipedia says: “I Got a Woman” included a mixture of gospel, jazz and blues elements that would later prove to be seminal in the development of rock ‘n’ roll and soul music”. No kidding!

Now let’s listen to Ray Charles live on through “Gold Digger” by Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx. Released in 2005, “Gold Digger” broke a record for the most digital downloads in a week and was also the fastest-selling digital download of all time.

Ok enough with the facts and the blah blah blah!   Go ahead, get down.

– More Info –

You already know about Ray Charles, Kanye West and Jamie Foxx. Here’s 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Kanye West’s ‘Gold Digger’

New Music: One More Night

Are you ready for some new music right out of the 1960s? I know I am. Boy are you in luck! Turns out Michael Kiwanuka has just released his second studio album. The single “One More Night”, barely six weeks old, is drenched in Marvin Gaye and Bill Withers. What else could you ask for?

One of my favorite things about this song (other than the groove) are the words. The lyrics are not meant to become a literary classic. Seems like they are perfect for rounding out the mood of the music and reflecting emotion in the context of time and place. This is good news for me. As a beginner songwriter, it’s a relief to unburden the need to become the next Elizabeth Barret Browning.

And for an added bonus, the bass tone is as old school as you can get.

– More Info –

Artist / Musician / Band: Michael Samuel Kiwanuka
Song: One More Night
Album: Love & Hate
Genre: singer songwriter, soul, folk rock
From: London
Website: michaelkiwanuka.com
Where to watch: Austin City Limits

Artist / Poet: Elizabeth Barret Browning
Genre: Poetry, Victorian era
From: England
Where to visit: Armstrong Browning Library | 710 Speight Avenue, Waco, Texas 76798
Notable fact: The Armstrong Browning Library is thought to house the largest collection of secular stained glass in the world.

A little Fireball pick me up

Sometimes it takes a little extra to get going. Maybe a couple more hits of the snooze button or a pot of coffee instead of a cup. Today, I decided to put on a bright and catchy song. Let’s see. How about some samba, Eurodance, pop rap?

You know I can’t turn down an offer to boogie oogie oogie, jiggle, wiggle and dance like the roof on fire! Okay Friday, I’m ready.

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Artist / Musician: Pitbull
Song: Fireball
Album: Globalization
Genre: Hip hop, house, pop
From: Miami
Website: pitbullmusic.com

The Record Co. Morphine Power Trio Explosion

I don’t know much about The Record Company. Except, I like their debut single “Off The Ground”.

It reminds me of a cross between rock trios Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (here’s Talk About The Blues) and Morphine (my favorite You Look Like Rain). P.S. Did you know? Morphine’s front man played a single-string bass guitar of his own creation with a slide.

It will be interesting to see if The Record Company can stay off the ground when they record a second album. It’s going to be a tough climb up the power trio mountain of music history.

– More Info –

Band: The Record Company
Song: Off The Ground
Album: Give It Back To You
Genre: Blues Rock Trio
From: Los Angeles
Website: therecordcompany.net

Band: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Genre: Blues Rock Trio
From: New York City
Website: thejonspencerbluesexplosion.com

Band: Morphine
Genre: Experimental Rock Trio
From: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Status: disbanded
Read: Life After Death: The Legacy of Mark Sandman and Morphine

New Music: The Avett Brothers – Ain’t No Man

I once saw the Avett Brothers perform live in Dallas and it was lots of fun. Friends turned me on to the concert and the concert turned me on to the band. I’m always interested in new music and recently, I heard a new Avett Brothers song on the radio “Ain’t No Man”. Soon they are releasing their ninth album since 2013. (Just a second, let me do the math…ok, I’m bad at math – but that sounds like a lot of albums recorded per year to me.)

With this new song, it appears they are branching out from folk and moving closer to roots rock. I love anything with either, or both 1) killer rhythm 2) lots of low end and was immediately attracted to this song for the rhythm. It’s a fun song and it might just brighten your day like it did mine. Enjoy.

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Artist / Musician / Band: The Avett Brothers
Song: Ain’t No Man
Album: True Sadness
Genre: folk rock
From: Mount Pleasant, North Carolina
Website: theavettbrothers.com

Samba: Oh, How Lovely

I attended a Ken Gaines songwriting workshop “How To Get Out Of Your Beautiful Rut” hosted by the Nashville Songwriters Association International. It was fantastic, as always. I’m not going to brief you on what Ken taught. You will have to sign up to take one of his workshops to find out.

However, groove was part of the discussion. And Corcovado came into my mind from one of the exercises of the workshop. It reminded me how much I used to love to play samba as an upright bassist. Probably, I’ll listen to this song 25 times before finishing this post. Here it is for your listening pleasure.

But wait! There’s more.

I also attended “Master Class with Ken Gaines: The Molecular Structure of Melody” hosted by Visionary Heights. Motif was part of that discussion. One definition of motif is: the smallest bit of a musical idea recognizable through repetition. What’s the first thing that came to my mind? One Note Samba.

Spoiler alert: my next song may be influenced by — you guessed it, Samba!

DIY: Nikki Lane

Lately, I’ve been listening regularly to “The Steve Earle Show: Hardcore Troubadour Radio” on Sirius XM. He dedicated one of his recent episodes to The Outlaw Country Cruise and all songs were by the artists on that cruise. One of the tracks “You Can’t Talk to Me Like That” was by Nikki Lane.

I had previously heard of Nikki through her song “Right Time” which is very catchy. You may already know, her second album All or Nothin’ was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Wikipedia says she met Dan at a flea market and that he allowed her to record the album at his studio, Easy Eye Sound Studio, for free.

However, what really grabbed me is this sentence: “…she broke up with a country musician, who left her to record an album in Alabama; this experience inspired her to begin writing country music songs.” What? How ironic! As you know, I’m a fan of DIY and it seems Nikki is too.

Of all Nikki’s videos, this is my very favorite. And, it’s not because of the lyrics. It’s because of the performance. Nikki can really sing live and it sounds like her records. Plus, this band is great! They really do the song justice. (Side note: Love the pedal steel – soo good.)

Nikki Lane “Man Up” live at the Artist Co-Op in Nashville, Tennessee (2014).

– More Info –

Artist / Musician / Band: Nikki Lane
Song: Man Up
Album: All or Nothin’
Genre: Outlaw Country
From: Greenville, South Carolina
Website: nikkilane.com, YouTube
Her fashion clothing store: High Class Hillbilly Facebook page, High Class Hillbilly website
Interview: Free People blog

Song No. 4: Solitude No. 1

An étude in music is a study or musical composition exploring a particular technical problem. Because the études/songs are grouped together, their song titles usually contain numbers. Example: Etude in C minor op.10 no.12.

This song is not an étude, but to me it is a study. The song explores the mood and emotion of solitude. I may want to write a series of songs to study mood and feelings. In case I decide to revisit solitude as a subject another time, the song is titled No. 1.

The album cover for my single song "Solitude No. 1" - Jodi Jenkins– More Info –

Artist / Musician: Jodi Jenkins
Song: Solitude No. 1
Album: Recorded as a single
All Rights Reserved. Copyright January 2016
SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/jodijenkins/
Playlist of My Songs: soundcloud.com/jodijenkins/sets/mysongs

Song: We’ve Got to Hold On

Tammy Wynette and George Jones singing togetherIf you’ve ever been through some trying times with someone you immediately know what’s behind this song. The beauty is, you know that without it being literally spelled out.

There is incredible emotion in the song, especially in the opening.

Yet, so delicately delivered. No yelling or crying even though you know that’s what was likely going on.

For me, the lesson in this song is to keep it simple. When I am trying to write songs, it’s hard to get away from compiling an essay relating the message. Remember Jodi, no need to outline bullet points for the listener. ha.

Tammy Wynette and George Jones with daughterOn another note, there are a several key changes in this song and it works brilliantly in a couple ways: 1) it is representative of the ups and downs of a relationship; 2) it keeps the song fresh musically for the duration; and 3) it serves a functional purpose to combine female and male vocals, which normally have very different ranges and keys. (There, I was able to fit bullet points in after all.)

This song is very powerful and so well done I could listen to it over and over.

– More Info –

Artist / Musician / Band: Tammy Wynette and George Jones
Album / Song: We’re Gonna Hold On 
Genre: Country
From: George Jones (Saratoga, Texas), Tammy Wynette (Tremont, Mississippi)

Concert: Billy Gibbons and the BFGs

Houston native Billy Gibbons played a concert recently promoting his new Cuban-influenced record. Of course, I had to go. Without having seen ZZ Top, I figured this concert was the next best thing. If you are unfamiliar with the music of ZZ Top, here’s what Rolling Stone says. Evidently, Billy Gibbons is no stranger to performing a concert. According to Rolling Stone, “The Worldwide Texas Tour” was one of the largest-grossing road trips in rock at the time.

I promised you I’d talk about the concert, but others have done a great job of concert and album reviews (see links at the bottom) – so I’ll talk about the music and influences.

First, Billy Gibbons mentions learning rhythm from Tito Puente, in person, at a young age. That figures! I’ve always thought Gibbons has great rhythm. Of course, as a bass player I’m biased towards the rhythm section. But, any musician whose music makes me want to dance is a winner. And, there aren’t an over abundance today that can do that via a live concert. Here’s Tito Puente – Five Beat Mambo. And, what’s the first thing you notice? A whole stage lined with percussion! What?!

So, at the BFG concert there were two stacks, two organs, two females on two drum kits, one percussionist, one low rider bicycle, and Billy Gibbons – a whole stage of rhythm and percussion. (well, except for the bicycle)

The BFGs also did a Slim Harpo tune, Got Love If You Want It. Here’s Slim Harpo’s version. Billy has a tendency to learn from the best: Slim Harpo, Tito Puente, Jimmy Reed, Sam and Dave. (Here’s ZZ Top’s cover of Sam and Dave’s Thank you. Speaking of ZZ Top songs. I really like Just Got Paid for the extended solo section that starts about 1:25. So good!)

I admire the way Gibbons combines both the past and present and takes that into the future. As you heard, he’s not afraid to experiment. Also, I think one of his greatest assets is his showmanship. He is truly an entertainer and puts on a great concert!

Professional Concert Reviews: