Thursday, 19 January 2012

*So Who is Lana Del Rey?

I thought I’d join the Lana Del Rey debate!  If art is measured by the controversy we create then she is already a winner!

Firstly the way the industry works today there is all this beavering away ‘behind the scenes’ in the studio writing and recording with producers. Fair enough. However there appears to be little emphasis on live music, even as live music and festivals become an ever bigger part of the music industry.

WHY do new artists such as Del Rey (aka Lizzy Grant) have to ‘pretend’ she sat at home playing guitar, when she simply was picked up by a label a few years back. This fairy story that it all happens by ‘magic’ is nearly non-existent these days. (unless you want to believe those pretend reality tv shows?) Many young people now ‘train’ at music colleges or study music at school. With instant Internet inspection the norm these days the minute an artist puts their music online there really is little room for any errors the way it was back in the 6os.  Back then it was even Ok to sing covers, goodness(!) while now to do so you have be a tribute act …..

All this good exposure online also has its drawbacks!  
Lana is clearly used to singing alongside a piano and on the Saturday Night Live YouTube clip she looked lost with the rock band. There are and should be all kinds of performers; those on the big stage and those on the small intimate stage. Lana plays the intimate stage perfectly. She has a unique husky subdued voice. Lovely. 
 Here she sounds pretty good with acoustic piano and one guitar -  actually strings would be good in there too!
(I also enjoy her retro fifties feel of her look and image.) 

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

*Celtic Connections Festival Glasgow 2012!

Held when we feel the winter blues, Celtic offers the warm glow of dancing fiddles, energetic guitars and free flowing singers....
In my twenties I dated a folk guitarist in Edinburgh and visited Sandy Bells and Arran folk festivals. The immediacy and passion of live traditional reels and folk songs were infectious and I was hooked. 
The recent successes of younger artists such as Mumford, Laura Marling and Bellowhead, show there is now renewed interest in the musical traditions worldwide. Aly Bain commented stated that there is little acoustic music on tv these days. Celtic started in 1994 when Aly Bain was the only professional fiddle player in Scotland and he wondered would they sell 100,000 tickets in January in Glasgow.....? Well yes they did and now in 2012 Celtic is one of the largest gatherings of folk music worldwide. 
My guitarist son and I take a front row seat every year at the Transatlantic Sessions, one of Celtics highlights which is led by musical directors Aly Bain and Jerry Douglas. This concert, which is held in the Glasgow Royal Concert hall, has an energetic impact where the folk traditions of close live collaborations and instrumental skills abound.
The mix of Scottish traditional lilting tunes alongside its' partner the fun rhythms of American bluegrass and country music works a treat. Nashville legend Dubro guitarist Jerry Douglas leads the Americans on the right if the stage and backing bands don't come any better then this!  Image, age and celebrity matter not one bit. What matters is the live music, nothing else. There are no flashing lights, gimmicks or egos - the music is simply down to the quality of the sound, instruments and playing skills. One of the main aspects I enjoy at Celtic are the very interesting and sometimes usual collaborations. 
The band includes veterans Danny Thompson on double bass, Bruce Molsky on guitar, Phil Cunningham on accordion, and also Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker, Donald Shaw, Darrell Scott, John Doyle, Russ Barenberg and James Mackintosh. 
After a couple of reels we have the pleasure of several singers from Tim O'Brien to the likes of Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis last year in a royal blue velvet dress.  James Taylor, Emmylou Harris and Nanci Griffith have also attended.  This year the sessions include Raul Malo, Ruth Moody, Declan O'Rourke, Eddi Reader and Karen Matheson. This concert is pure class - acoustic music at it's very best.  Long may it last!   Transatlantic now goes on tour after the festival, check for dates 

The festival centres around the concert hall with open mic sessions, concerts and more, as well as many other Glasgow venues that include the Old Fruitmarket, City halls, The Arches, Classic Grande, the ABC, Oran Mor, more.   
This is one of my favourite festivals and 2012 will be my fifth year covering Celtic.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Most Important Drumbeat Ever

Copyright Laws.
Too strict copyright is as bad as too little copyright laws.
Restrictive copyright laws stifle creativity and the freedom required for the progression of music.

The History of the ‘Amen Break’. Samples of this drum beats were used in hip hop and club dance music that has led to a massive industry and money maker for the music industry.  The industry ignored the sampling in the 80s...perhaps things simply need to renew.

As regulators in the US seeks to tighten copyright laws we should reflect that our culture is richer if our copyright laws are less strict. (and PS why do artists wish to ban fans from supporting their work, what is that about?)

Friday, 6 January 2012

Lana Del Rey's National Anthem

'National Anthem' is a song from Lana Del Rey's forthcoming debut album 'Born To Die'. . 

Lana Del Rey (formerly known as Lizzy Grant) has built up a huge following on YouTube in 2011 with her song ‘Video Games’ and was tipped for big things in 2012. She has appeared on the BBCs ‘Later With Jools Holland’ and she is on the cover of Q magazine January 2012.  

DIY Blog likens the song ‘National Anthem’ to the band All Saints and sees the song as a potential chart hit. Quote:” As a pop song, capable of breaking into the charts - and this is the context we should be putting Del Rey in… it’s a potential no.1 hit.”  

Quote Kicksnare blog – ‘Leak after demo after leak has hit the net. The latest ‘National Anthem’ is the first track to really catch me since ‘Video Games’….. Her beautiful and unique voice sometimes doesn’t seem to fit the tempo of her music, but ‘National Anthem’ is brilliant… Lana channels a westcoast vibe that takes me back to the days when slow, soulful and gritty westcoast hip-hop ruled my radio – perfectly showcasing her brazenly seductive attitude. So take into account this is a leak and know the final mix will only be even more spectacular Ok Miss Del Rey, you have finally done it, I am under your spell.’