Showing posts with label funk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label funk. Show all posts

Saturday 6 August 2016

PHOTOS Mugstock festival 2016

BMX Bandits
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Mugdock country park was lit in magical green and yellow lights offering festival goers warm friendliness and a wide spectrum with some of the best of Scottish contemporary music – with indie folk rock, funk, hip-hop, DJ sets, more. Headliners this year were Emma Pollock, Stanley Odd, BMX Bandits.

The headliner Friday at the Corrie Stage Emma Pollock delighted festival fans with her sultry tones and quality songs ( and her latest album receiving top reviews). Before her the funky Mickey 9s had everyone up dancing.

Emma Pollock
Siobhan Wilson

BMX Bandits

On the Sunday the fun BMX Bandits brought the tent down with familiar tunes and fun energy. After which the rockin Shiverin Sheiks were well chosen headliners and excellent musicians with their country rock tunes and they had everyone rocking to their groovin beats; the talented local band the Young Aviators impressed; singer songwriter Siobhan Wilson captivated with her floating engrossing voice and she was joined on stage for Dylan’s Spanish Leather by traditional singer and her good mate, Alastair Ogilvie.

Set in amongst the trees was the Chameleon Stage, where I saw the rocker Declan Welsh, the cabaret of Donut and the indie of James Edwyn and the Barrowed Band.

Mikeys 9s

The Glade was the place for the DJ sets and a large bonfire.
The Tchai Ovna was near the camping and the Mugdock castle and offered a calm retreat with selected teas, clarinet music and more chilled out musicians – I met here with the singer songwriter Mayor Stubbs.

The Jolly Garden (walled garden) was the place for family entertainment with - Hoola Hoops, Mr Boom!, Dragon Storytelling, Juggling and more. Also showcasing local talent from Strathblane here and on the main stage.

Plus there was the Mugdock theatre’s Charlie stage for an intimate setting.

BMX Bandits

BMX Bandits
Shiverin Sheiks

Mugstock impressed with quality planning and organisation presenting the small festival friendliness. They were fortunate with the weather and on Friday perfect blue skies overhead. Well done to the team for their hard work and putting on another successful festival!

Sunday 14 December 2014

Northern Soul

 A rock beat with jazz chords

Motown Soul. The upbeat Motown sound combined a Blues beat, R & B and chords that make you feel wistful or sad on top of a rock beat. During the 1960s, Motown achieved massive success for a small record company with 80 records in the Top Ten US Billboard record chart!   

In my teens, Motion was the Big Thing at the discos. I remember it all well, just the way music brings back our strongest memories. I only need to hear one of those soul classics to be back there speedily in time, dancing away to those fun tunes. There was something about those guitar riffs.and funky beats.

I later learned that Motown used a brilliant live band. One of the keys to the Motown successes were the live band by quality musicians The Funk Brothers led by on bass.  These musicians played on more number-one records than other iconic pop artist such as The Beatles, Elvis, The Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys combined. Their bass player James Jamerson often played his instrument with only the index finger of his right hand, and created many of the basslines apparent on Motown songs such as The Supremes 'You Can't Hurry Love'. 
Some of the best loved Motown souls sounds were by the singers The Four Tops and The Temptations.
The Four Tops -  'I can't help myself' , 'Same Old Song', 'Reach Out', 'Baby I Need Your Lovin',
The Temptations -  'Get Ready', 'Just My imagination', 'I can’t Get Next to you', 'Ain’t Too Proud to beg, 'You’re my everything',
At the time there was also underground sounds of Pirate radio - to seek out music and have ownership of the music that made it our chart.  Pirate radio then out at sea, such as Radio Luxemburg, sought lesser-known music and aimed to have ownership of the music that made it our chart.  

Northern Soul. The other night I watched the film Soul Boy about the north of England soul scene. Northern Soul started in the north of England with all night dance sessions were often an escape from humdrum realities.  Recordings most prized by fans were by lesser known artists, usually in limited releases by small labels. Famous venues for all nighters were the Wigan Casino and the Twisted Wheel in Manchester.

There is a new film this year called Northern Soul released Oct 2014 -
The film sound track includes Back Street by Edwin Starr, Soul Time by Shirley Ellis, Stick by Me Baby by The Salvadores and Tear Stained Face by Don Varner.

After Motown James Brown took R&B and soul to a new rhythmic sound with his song 'Cold Sweat' which showed the world that the future would be with funk.  With the bass and drum locking the whole band became the beat with the emphasis on the first beat of the bar (rather than the second and fourth beats).  The sound became more intense with less and with the groove more important. The melody or song danced and rode on top of the groove.
Brown was followed by LA bands Earth Wind and Fire and Sly and the Family Stone.
Larry Graham went wild slapping and playing his bass like a drum. Stevie Wonder has the ultimate soul/funk hit with his groove on massive Superstition. 
UK bands such as the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin borrowed the funk grooves. Then there was the funkiest UK band, Scottish band The Average White Band, who were the funkiest and topped the US charts with their album picking Up the Pieces. 

In the 70s the disco sound, which was easy to dance to, went massive and ruined funk's heartbeat.  Disco had little syncopation with computerized beats. Funk had to adapt to survive and stay currant.
In the 80s Prince produced pop, rock and funk crossover sounds.  Next direct from black culture, came the new Hip Hop sounds. 

Northern Soul nights are still popular today. The groove is also alive and well today in 2014 with artists like Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers and Farrell Williams and the huge hits Happy and Get Lucky.   

Sunday 16 September 2012

Nile Rodgers - Why Did Disco Suck?

Nile Rodgers Edinburgh Book festival 2012
Rodgers is one the most successful writers/ producers from the 70s. He wrote for Diana Ross's major hit album Diana, Madonna's Like A Virgin, David Bowie's Lets Dance and produced many hit singles such as - We are Family, Lost in Music, Lets Dance, Le Freak and many more. He was originally in the band Chic who had hits with Le Freak and Everybody Dance.

Nile gave a fun informal chat at the Edinburgh Book Festival's Speigel tent in August, with many impromptu plays of the guitar when the audience enthusiastically sang along. Nile talked about his music. He said when he wrote songs – first came the words and he always started with the chorus or hook. He likes to use the jazziest chords and fuse concepts together. He talked about the level of pop culture and that Bowie was ‘disruptive’ and therefore stood out in the charts. He believed in the ‘artistic powers’ of music itself. He said that the people made Good Times a No 1 which he said was his favourite song.  

Nile talked about his music. He said when he wrote songs – first came the words and he always started with the chorus or hook. He likes to use the jazziest chords and fuse concepts together. He talked about the level of pop culture and that Bowie was ‘disruptive’ and therefore stood out in the charts. He believed in the ‘artistic powers’ of music itself. He said that the people made Good Times a No 1 which he said was his favourite song.  

He learned flute and clarinet at school and later taught himself guitar. At 18 he auditioned for the children’s tv show Sesame Street for which he wore a crazy green wig!. He then worked at the Apollo theatre in New York with Screaming J Hawkings. 
On a trip to London he saw Roxy Music at the Roxy theatre!  Which he thought was so unique. He thought they should be the black version of Roxy Music and be a ‘totally immersive experience in music’ and they called themselves the Big Apple Band

They played sophisticated funk and their track ‘Everybody Dance’ was a big success in the dance clubs but there was little interest in a black rock band at that time. Jazz bands often went to France to make it then (Nina Simone and others) so they pretended that they were from France!  Chic was born and they had a hit with ‘Le Freak’ – which has been the biggest selling song for Atlantic Records and has such an awesome guitar riff!  

They then wrote hit songs for Sister Sledge – We are Family and Lost in Music. He wrote for Diana Ross – who he interviewed for three days firstly – Michael Jackson, Madonna, David Bowie and many more. He has jammed with Hendrix. Madonna's Like Virgin sold more than 20m records and Nile wrote David's Bowie's best-selling album Let's Dance in just 17 days.

Disco went out of fashion and in the late 70s disco suddenly sucked – and so Nile went into producing for others. Yet he said if you look at the biggest chart hits for artists at that time their hit songs were disco influenced – for example Rod Stewart (Do You Think I’m Sexy) , Queen ( Anther One Bites the Dust), Rolling Stones (Miss You). 

Trends come and go and by the late 70s many rock bands had become flashy (or trashy!) with over the top, overblown sounds and productions and in reaction punk was born in the 80s. The good thing about punk music was it 'let go' and simply went for it!  Never mind the rules, who cares - lets just be nuts and the more off the edge the better - punk was raw and raucous! Sometimes art needs to be rough edge.  So why did disco suck? Well there is that macho element in some music critics who can't accept that not all of us enjoy heavy rock. The uniformity of the mainstream plays it safe and we can only move forward when we question and challenge the accepted and that's what punk, the 60s, the revolution were all about.  
Nile Rodgers Edinburgh Book festival 2012
Yes there was an anti-disco movement but lets not forget at the start disco had much to offer.
Some of my favourite Disco tracks - Diana Ross Upside Down, BeeGees Grease, Chic Le Freak, Michael Jackson Billie Jean, Stevie Wonder Superstition. 
He was also in conversation a couple of nights later at the festival with renowned Scottish writer Irvine Welsh. This was quite a contrast with Welsh in his white t shirt and bald head and Nile with his long dark dreadlocks 

Nile Rodgers – sometime actor for Sesame Street, songwriter, musician, producer, arranger and guitarist. Le Freak, Everybody Dance, We are Family, Let’s Dance, Like a Virgin, The Reflex.
Nile has written his autobiography “Le Freak – An Upside Down Story of Family”, 

Disco is a genre of dance music. Disco acts charted high during the mid-1970s, and the genre's popularity peaked during the late 1970s. Its initial audiences were club-goers from the African American, Latino, gay, and psychedelic communities in New York City and Philadelphia during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Disco also was a reaction against both the domination of rock music and the stigmatization of dance music by the counterculture during this period. Musical influences include funk, Latin and soul music. The disco sound has soaring, often reverberated vocals over a steady "four-on-the-floor" beat, an eighth note (quaver) or 16th note (semi-quaver) hi-hat pattern with an open hi-hat on the off-beat, and a prominent, syncopated electric bass line sometimes consisting of octaves. The "disco sound" was more costly to produce than many other genres - disco music  included a large pop band, with several chordal instruments (guitar, keyboards, synthesizer), several drum or percussion instruments (drumkit, Latin percussion, electronic drums), a horn section, a string orchestra, and a variety of "classical" solo instruments (for example, flute, piccolo, and so on). Disco songs were arranged and composed by arrangers and orchestrators, and producers added creative touches.  Recording complex arrangements required a team that included a conductor, copyists, record producers, and mixing engineers.  Disco songs used as many as 64 tracks of vocals and instruments. Mixing engineers compiled these tracks into a fluid composition of verses, bridges, and refrains, complete with orchestral builds and breaks. Mixing engineers helped to develop the "disco sound" by creating a distinctive-sounding disco mix.
With the advent of punk rock music an anti-disco sentiment developed. Many groups that were popular during the disco period subsequently struggled to maintain their success. The Bee Gees never had a major hit in the United States after the 1970s—even though later songs they wrote and had others perform were successful.