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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Lindsey Stirling’s “Warmer In The Winter” is an Excellent Release for the Holiday Season

I have done quite a few music reviews over the years but I can honestly say I’m not sure if I’ve ever given an album a 5-star rating, until now. The fact is, even the artists nobody would ever expect to come out with a Christmas album are lining the retails shelves with holiday sounds. And in some ways, the impact has been lousy. You are probably going to end up with either a bunch of originals that are of poor quality or boring versions of the classics.

On this recording, what Lindsey does so well, with the help of a few friends (Sabrina Carpenter, Becky G, Trombone Shorty and Alec Gaskarth of All Time Low) is blend her own style that has made her a star with classic tunes while adding in just enough in terms of original songs to make for a very pleasant listening session.

The best among the originals is “Christmas C’mon” and the most interesting rendition of a cover is “Let It Snow.”

Overall, I’d be hard-pressed to find someone I didn’t think would love it.

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Taylor Swift “Reputation” Album Review

For the last decade, Taylor Swift has been a star in the music industry. However, based on the first couple of singles that have gotten some play from her new album “Reputation,” I can honestly say I set my expectations fairly low for this one.

While Swift’s first several albums were country with a bit of a cross-over into pop, her last release of “1989” was about 90% pop and 10% country at best. It worked out well. This is due to the notion that her sound remained very much hers and the pop style utilized was fairly authentic.

The album “Reputation” is really the story of two distinct halves. For the most part, the first half is a collection of rather cliché and overproduced pop with a bit of rap and hip-hop added in for some reason. It’s a major departure from her prior recordings and it comes across as forced and inauthentic. The second half is still pop but seems much more suited to her and relatable to her longtime supporters.

My concern here is that Swift seems to be reinventing herself. Sure, tons of artists do this over the years of their career. Some have done it several times like the “Material Girl.” Usually though, this is because their style has lost appeal. The problem here is a simple one. Swift is doing it even though she didn’t have to and that what she was doing suited her and excited a fan base.

The best tracks on this release are probably “Getaway Car,” “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” and Call It What You Want.” The ones we could really do without include “End Game” and “Gorgeous” with all other being a mixed bag at best.

As mentioned, I came in with low expectations. When this is the case, it’s not hard to exceed such a notion. So, while I’d say she did do just that, it’s not a lot to rave about. I’d give her an average rating or something like 3/5. While that’s not bad, it’s on the lower part of the Swift discography.

Al Gilliom – Profiling a Musical Mind

Q and A session with musical talent Al Gilliom

How long have you been into music?
I was born premature and spent the first 6 months of my life in an incubator. My parents wired my incubator with speakers so I could hear classical piano music. I believe that my love of music was born while I was in the incubator. I’ve been playing the piano since I was 5 years old.

What got you started in it?
My grandmother played the piano – as a child, I remember being mesmerized by her hands flying across the keys.

Who are some musicians that inspired you?
I have a long list of inspirations, including (but not limited to): David Lanz, Chopin, Debussy, Mozart, Beethoven, The Eagles, Indigo Girls, John Denver, Sam Smith, and many more!

Your location and age?
I’m 30 years old and live in Washington State.

What is your favorite part of the art form?
My favorite part of the art form is having the opportunity to touch people with my music.

Where can we get your music?

Song are available at the Al Gilliom Soundcloud page.

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Album Review – Take A Chance by Abigail Jerri

If you have not yet heard about the music of one Abigail Jerri, it’s about time you do.

This young musician from suburban Pittsburgh, PA released her first album in 2016 and it is well worth checking out.

Entitled “Take A Chance,” the recording includes a total of seven songs. And while the official category according to CD Baby is Pop, it is anything but conventional. Jerri uses classical instrumentation and smooth, soft but strong vocal to create her own unique vibe. The artist meshes what I interpret as elements of jazz, country, rhythm and blues and even light rock to express herself though in a sweet vocal style. She brings out the emotion in the lyrics and I’d recommend you take some time to get to know her work. This young lady could really go places.

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Here’s her Youtube video channel.

 

Amy Oestreicher in her hit one-woman musical Gutless & Grateful

Following sold-out runs at The Triad NYC, The Bijou Theatre, United Solo Festival, Barrington Stage Company (Tony-Award winning William Finn’s Cabaret Series) and a nationwide tour from Washington D.C. to Hawaii, the captivating Amy Oestreicher will bring her hit one-woman musical Gutless & Grateful back to NYC at the internationally acclaimed Metropolitan Room on February 5th and 25th, 2017.  Through interwoven song and dialogue, performer Amy Oestreicher shares a primal piece of live-storytelling – weaving her near death experience and inspiring perspective with an eclectic set of songs, hilariously highlighting struggles, triumphs and “beautiful detours” in her life.

“Gutless & Grateful is not a story about a victim, but one of a survivor. Amy has channeled the pain of her experiences into something far greater.” – Michelle Alerte (Woman Around Town)

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Nominated for “Best Theatre Debut” in 2012 (Broadway World), and Bistro Awards Top Pick, and featured in Huffington Post, Gutless & Grateful, takes audiences on a musical journey of determination, grit and “guts” as Oestreicher shares her humor, her strength, and her soaring vocals with the world. Oestreicher’s script was inspired by the thousands of journal entries she kept over the six years she endured unable to eat a morsel of food or drink a drop of liquid.  Co-conceived by Oestreicher and musical director David Brunetti, the show is directed by Broadway-veteran Jerold Goldstein, also on piano.  “Gutless” also features the song “Still Alive” which was written for Amy by acclaimed composer David Friedman with lyrics by TV personality and lyricist Kathie Lee Gifford, after she appeared on NBC’s TODAY Show in 2011.

“One part moving testament to human indomitability, the other a thoroughly satisfying evening of song. While each element is strong enough to stand on its own, combined they illuminate and enhance each other. Rarely have I seen narration and song so artfully meshed, and Oestreicher’s likeability, good humor, interpretive skill, and manifest commitment to what she is saying and singing make us not only understand her story, but also feel it on a very deep level.”
-Roy Sander (critic for BistroAwards.com)

Amy had ambitious plans for Broadway, until she abruptly developed a blood clot the week before her high school senior prom. After being rushed to the hospital, her stomach exploded in the operating room, and after both her lungs collapsed, she nearly died. After waking up from a coma several months later, she was told she no longer had a stomach, and it was unknown whether she would ever be able to eat or drink again . After 27 surgeries and six of the past ten years unable to drink a drop of fluid, Amy’s digestive system was miraculously reconstructed and she learned that the human spirit heals through “gutsiness”, gratitude, and an overabundance of humor.
Amy Oestreicher is an artist, author, speaker for RAINN and TEDx, writer for The Huffington Post, award-winning health advocate, actress and playwright, eagerly sharing the lessons learned from a decade of trauma through her writing, performance, art and speaking.  Amy’s story and show have appeared on the TODAY Show, CBS, WNBC Cosmopolitan, Seventeen Magazine, Unmistakable Creative, Good Housekeeping, among others, and her writings have appeared in over 70 notable lifestyle, wellness, and arts publications.  Amy’s “beautiful detour” inspired her to create the #LoveMyDetour movement, a campaign inspiring people to flourish because of, rather than in spite of challenges- also the subject of her ’16 TEDx Talk and upcoming book, My Beautiful Detour. Oestreicher will also be giving another TEDx Talk this February in Virginia.

Oestreicher’s story is always inspirational and surprisingly funny.” – Paulanne Simmons (Times Square Chronicles)

Come for a moving night of song, stories and possibilities, all in a 70-minute musical comedy. Gutless & Grateful is no ordinary one-woman show, but a powerhouse production that leaves the audience in tears, laughing hysterically, and savoring every last bite as though it were their very first.

Amy Oestreicher in Gutless & Grateful plays the Metropolitan Room on 34 W 22nd St, New York, NY 10010, on February 5th at 7pm and March 26th  at7pm.  Doors open 30 minutes beforehand.

Tickets start at $24 and there is a two drink minimum.. Tickets and information are available at http://metropolitanroom.com/event.cfm?id=239500 and by calling (212) 206-0440

For more information on Oestreicher’s unique story and highly esteemed show, visit www.amyoes.com  and follow her on Twitter @amyoes or Facebook @amyoestr

The poetry of Johnny Cash

Anybody who has even a casual knowledge of music history knows about the one and only Johnny Cash. He was known for his deep words and often melancholic tone. But until recently, few realized that we also wrote poetic works.

In a book called “Johnny Cash: Forever Words,” his son collected 41 pieces that he had skillfully crafted and had them published for music and literary buffs. I got my copy a few weeks back but have not yet gotten much of a change to delve in.

If this is something you might like, check it out today.

It is available at retailers such as Amazon or can be ordered at your local bookseller.

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Lastest Musical Release By Anthony Rankin

Years ago, a talented musician named Anthony Rankin started out doing shows in his native Pittsburgh. After a number of albums, he took off to continue his career in the East Coast music capital of Nashville. This is the video from his latest release “Pony Tail.”

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