Month: June 2013

Mr Black and Blues’ album “Blow These Tracks” Source:

Mr Black and Blues’ album “Blow These Tracks”

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Source: http://www.pbsfm.org.au/node/23638

 

From humble beginnings, Michael Pollitt returns as Mr Black and Blues for a second album “Blow These Tracks” recorded live on the Blues Train. This album is unique and special, produced with special guest Chris Wilson, an Australian legend. “Blow These Tracks” is hearty and it’s meaty and as a live recording, it’s so grounded and earthy. In a world first, this album was recorded on one of Australia’s live music institutions, Queenscliff’s Legendary Blues Train (a working steam train!), home to Australia’s finest Blues musicians for over 20 years. This album comes after a 10 years abroad and has so far sold out all of its shows in Australia.

“Blow These Tracks” offers a nice fusion between Rock and Roll and Blues with possibly a twang of Country. With the constant drum beat, not unlike that of a train, this album really shows off the electric guitar talent that Mr Black and Blues has. Each song is (unsurprisingly) just made that much better by Wilson’s crazy harmonica. The compilation between the two is energetic and spirit-lifting just because the passion for music that both musicians have just oozes from each song. Mr Black and Blues is influenced by a number of greats, Max Crawdaddy, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, with a cover of “Gimme Some Lovin’” being performed in the latter half of the CD. In my opinion, nothing beats the original Ray Charles, no matter how hard you try, but they show a good effort in just using guitar, drums and harmonica. This rendition is more rock than anything, with a set beat and dominant, husky vocals and harmonica/guitar solos. In this respect, they take the song and make it their own, but I’m just not sure I would have tried to cover a legend.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m being picky, this album is fantastic. It’s wholesome and really shows off their talent. In fact, there are elements of this album that do a great job in paying homage to classic sounds, for example “Muddy Waters” begins as a fantastic rock song, with a strong electric guitar, then the harmonica somehow reminds us that the album is being recorded on a steam train. It’s interesting and oddly curious how such a sound can be reminiscent of a place. Wonderful. The long winded harmonica from Wilson just takes me to a place where the yellow grass is long and sways lethargically in a warm breeze into an oncoming dusk. Have a listen to “Broken Heart Blues” and tell me you don’t see yourself in a hammock there.

Although each song has the same sound (instrumentally and vocally), they do well to vary the atmosphere with tempo and pace. Some are energetic like the constant chug of a train, while some are slow and lazy. This just shows great talent and range from the musicians and somehow I just feel that in their audience conversation between song, Mr Black and Blues should have a thick southern accent. In this respect, this album just makes me proud to be Australian because he is an Aussie himself!

For more information, check out http://www.mrblackandblues.com/

 

Just Messin – album review

Cross Eyed Cats

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Coming in at number 7 in the Australian Blues Top 25 Radio Chart is the Cross Eyed Cats’ new album “Just Messin’”. This album is great, it’s gritty, earthy and above all else, it’s real. Their sound is classic Chicago blues, their beats are toe-tappin and their tunes are like period pieces from the 1950’s-1960’s. When I listened to their album, I half expected the Blues Brothers to pop out and do some funky boogie. They’ve got a bit of Mark Knopfler and a bit of Hendrix guiding the fingers of the lead guitarist to add a bit of rock, like in the song “Leave My Little Girl Alone”. The interspersed harmonica makes their whole sound so very blues and most of their songs are completely lifted by the harmonica, they just know how to use the instrument in moderation and because of their restraint, the times when the harmonica comes in are just bliss, as it is with any classic slow blues beat and then there’s a surprise guitar riff. Sublime, in my opinion. For example “Help Me”  really sounds like it should be on the soundtrack to American Pickers or something, something Southern.

The best part is that when I first picked up their tunes I straightaway thought they were a genuine blues band from the period, but alas, the Cross Eyed Cats formed in 2002 in Fremantle in Western Australia. While their career as a band has been on and off, they’ve released the album Just Messin’ for our enjoyment, just because they’re a bloody good blues band. They sound authentically blues and this is so refreshing in light of the current music industry, especially coming from a small time Australian band. They’ve got depth and this album shows that they’re on the prowl again for a bit of fun. The Cross Eyed Cats are polished and familiar, which makes their music easy listening and comfortable. There is really nothing I would add to the album, their four members cover all the necessary bases; Bass, drums, harmonica, guitar and vocals. They’re not pretentious, they’re just a great, real, gritty sound.

For more information, please visit https://www.facebook.com/crosseyedcats/info

Tower Of Power’s album Soul Vaccination

Tower Of Power’s album Soul Vaccination

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Source: http://blues.gr/profiles/blogs/emilio-castillo-of-tower-of-power-interview

There I was, wrapped in blankets feeling sorry for myself with a winter sniffle, and I put on Soul Vaccination by the Tower of Power and INSTANTLY the clouds parted. I could breathe again, my parched lips cracked a smile and my pounding head was bopping to the beat all by itself. Ok, I’m being a little dramatic, but honestly, this funky fresh music is still fresh, nearly fifteen years after its release. The band the Tower of Power have no use by date. Since their inception in 1968, this Californian band resounds an originality so great I can’t help but dance in my cocoon. Soul Vaccination is the band’s fourth live album, a compilation of their greatest hits performed live. The sound is so great, the album really captures the cheers and enthusiasm of the audience and in between songs, you can hear the crowd interaction, the ‘yeahs!’, the participation. I don’t really know the words, but the tunes are so catchy I sing along anyway.

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Source: http://www.lyricspond.com/artist-tower-of-power/album-soul-vaccination-live

Soul Vaccination, the album’s namesake is funky, soulful, energetic and fantastically mood lifting, while their slow-dance Willin’ To Learn slowed the pace to a soulful ballad, making my clutch my teddy-bear and yearn for a partner to hold. I’m familiar with the genre, but to my ignorance, I can’t believe I haven’t listened to this band before! I need to stick on some dancing shoes and groove on down the store and get me another album, Soul Vaccination has definitely converted me to the power of the tower.

The Tower of Power’s horns-section and percussion give a real earthy feeling, with conscious tributes to James Brown and they just sound like they have everything that the current music industry is lacking. They’re a bit reminiscent of Barry White, James Brown, the Four Tops and The Temptations, sort of taking a bit of Motown and making it funky and soulful. Their precisely syncopated bass guitar lines are groovy and their horns blare like funky jazz. This band makes me happy because their sound is the original and their sound is one of the best. Yes, there are plenty of soul/funk bands around these days, but this 1968 band is still successful today and still together today. Soul Vaccination is a fresh blast from the past that is so worth playing out loud and grooving to.

Ever After, album review.

Rachel Collis, a classically trained vocalist and pianist, branches out to pop-music, writing and composing original pieces that really illustrate her talent for storytelling- stories that are both theatrically entertaining and profoundly moving. After studying a Masters of Music in Composition and Production at the Australian Institute of Music (A.I.M), Rachel produced an album, Ever After, with tunes which were incidentally, later transformed into a one-woman show that was performed to sell-out audiences across Sydney and Adelaide.

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Source: http://www.rachelcollis.com/cabaret/

Ever After is Rachel’s debut album and it is whimsical, flirtatious and quite musical-esque. Upon first listening to her self-composed tunes, the composition sounds akin to a Broadway Musical, something like Wicked. A prime example of the nature of her album is Understudy, a tune worthy of a visual performance to accompany it. She’s harnessed an array of instruments, from piano, percussion, guitar and the like and in her arrangements, she exudes a great talent for orchestral compositions. Most of all, she has learnt to especially harness her voice. Her vocal control is at its peak in Echo, a song with only her voice accompanied by a piano. She has a beautiful rhythm, a softness like Sarah Brightman and a polished power like Idina Menzel. Rachel builds tension through tempo and her music washes over the listener in waves. Just with inflection and timing, she manages to tell a story, articulately and easily. She can inspire profound heartfelt emotion with her ballads, while her previous song can be hilarious in lyrics and fantastically entertaining. Ever After is a wonderfully professional album released in 2012. She is a talented lyricist, like Sondheim and so magically versatile, so charismatic. I eagerly anticipate the release of her new album.

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Source: http://www.7digital.com/artist/rachel-collis/release/ever-after

 

 

For more information, visit www.rachelcollis.com

 

Toulouse Lautrec

No matter how ‘original’ the works were coming out coming out of there the studios surrounding Paris were places where men were taught to creatively express themselves with limitations with restrictions                obviously       A gallivanting horse needed to gallivant not frolic and a camellia must resemble a camellia and not any other bloom  They learnt a  f o r m u l a   – a way to capture the sun on her regular rounds of the earth They learnt to capture the wind- from the roughest of winds to the slightest of breezes and they learnt to use pale colours- to paint how light reflects through the thin muslin of a ladies’ gown and how the gradients of colour in her cloth changed with every subtle breath of air They were given palettes of beauty- not for their tastes but the tastes of those who commissioned them and although they were left to dream their imaginations on a canvas these men remained focused on the traditional subjects- a sunflower here a haystack there

The blue on their canvas was not a regular blue it was a deep sky blue the blue on a clear spring summer’s day perhaps a blue suggestive of a foreboding storm off the shoreline It was a blue that sparkled with the calm ocean and it was a blue that was reflected in the shadows on the face of a lady standing parasol in hand at the edge of the land peering into the deep    This blue aswerealltheirothercoloursmind was unthreatening                pale      calm The artists learnt to harness their skills and the art studios were places where the most wonderful of this breed could be found

The work they produced drew crowds The glasses of an artist were invited to be peered through as their works graced the displays in exhibitions It showed people a life more fragile more delicate than their own lives their looong hours their street filth their grimy faces Yet even these people could be art critics- a connoisseur of these painters could be found on every street corner- can still be found on every street corner Everyone seemed to have an eye for the way leaves are left, enlacing the ground or the way that horse’s muscles are flexed and from there it didn’t matter what class you were            you could be an art critic.

There were still distinctions however It was easy to distinguish the people who had confetti-like money for artworks for what they thought would be considered valuable from the people who had neither the finances nor the expertise to specialise in these fields of art critiquing EVEN today a waterlily can be found adorning the atrium of a middle-class house        so how can these men even  be considered fresh at all?

There was however one Man who by personal limitationsandgenuine interest happened to chance upon the beauty that is the art world. Bedridden with a rare and horrific bone disease at a young age this Man was no gentleman necessarily He had the need to explore the world and from his room he painted what he saw even if his subject had flaws personality     charisma This Man had a talent a different talent a unique talent His brushstrokes brandished the perfect replica of a face of a subject The quality of his portraits far surpassed that of his peers adding another dimension   an up-curled lip        a sneer          a wince          his ambition and skill was far more complex than any other He possessed the extraordinary powers of examination   for scrutiny    for the pain behind the eyes            for the lost courage behind the mask         for the eternal exhaustion and so he painted Le Parisian underground

This Man’s paintings went beyond the cityscape to the make shadows and darkness a focal point To dub the landscapes and interiors of Paris and its surrounds merely secondary to the character of the subject His uncovering of the psychological essence of a subject left his contemporaries to shame and was later realised by Germans to be of immense value and   unlike his contemporaries   he didn’t care to finish a portrait or finish canvas and      while those very same contemporaries journeyed from painting natural        real works a perfect-mirror-image-of-reality-on-a-canvas to impressions and interpretations of light and movement The Man went further

He took a face            a bland face of an everyday squatter and his sketchings of the face became identifiable with Michaelangelo’s                        and then he took the face and smudged it just a smidgen to create a soft gradient of colours               and then he took the blur of colours that smudged reality into gradual gradients and separated them even further into small pixels of colour of light of movement and placed them Nicely Structured Into Neat Grades something so radically unheard of ever before  something that relied on the unknowing participation of your eye to mould the colours together to form a picture

But      even    this      was    not      enough

While civilised society attended and revered OperasandOrchestralConcertsandRestaurantsandBallets

While civilised society was                         still      basking in the last rays of the sunny countrysides                       still      absorbing the last warmth of the autumn at the races    still      staring at the stars on a starry starry night This Man became obsessed with the underbelly [of the] city and many of his subjects could be found lurking at the maisons de tolerance a place Merely Tolerated due to nearly illicit activities and he lurked around the same performances of cabaret c0unt1e55 times just to see not  the performance per say rather the reactions and interactions of the audience and there he would paint and paint      and [oilandcharcoal]        paint   and      paint   and [crayononcanvas]         paint   and [sketchoncardboard]             paint and he painted grotesque ladies with ill-fitting bodices and chubby men who seemed less than gentle and secretive conspirators conspiring in a booth and ballerinas with their faces dripping off from total exhaustion and harlots with vulnerable expressions on their hardened faces and comic performers in their interval moments of genuine sincerity

while civilised society was still standing on the bridge overlooking some waterlilies

Then

By the power vested in Japanese Japonisme  his Neatly Separated Pixels Of Colour And Light became blocks like woodblocks of colour of colour with no gradient of one colour of purer colours of sinuous lines and there this man learnt minimalism and discarded the superfluous nature of suggestive blues and became able to simplify emotions with only        a          single              brush stroke of         oil or crayon or charcoal and he stained the poster-boards at the Moulin Rouge  with LOUD PROUD BOLD AND GOLD colours afforded and under commission by establishments and he wrote his name at the bottom        and                 from then on                    his father disowned him                 Ugh! Such ghastly subjects [he said] How could you associate our name with that trollop?! [he said]                     and it was indeed saddening           but no matter The Man now had a commercial break He illustrated books He advertised photographers He came to deconstruct the image in such an abstract way that it’s appearance could still be likened to its origin but would no longer be suggestive in the sweeping plains of colour          only suggestive in gesture and body language  and facial expression and

and maybe This Man became bored

So he decided to employ the services of a certain green fairy beside an Australian chum (a chum who later went on to paint spirits and dryads and mystical imaginings) to expand his creative vision to reimagine the unimagined and while this momentous momentum rolled on-

he could no longer feel the grass between his toes          he could no longer raise his arm to shield his eyes from the sun he could no longer listen to the laughter in the Moulin Rouge  and when he covered his mouth with a kerchief to cough- he saw colours as red as the petticoats on those can-can girls

And this man                                     was no more.

Slava’s Snowshow

Slava’s Snowshow is a magical night of beauty and awe. I didn’t really expect anything and unless you really looked for an underlying subtext, there seemed to be little plot. A series of clowning sketches of slapstick, of children’s humour and of imagination allowed the all-ages audience to relive the wonder and awe of a child. The show is oddly satirical, clever and most importantly, very interactive. Above all else, this show is beauty unlike anything you’re ever seen. The theatrics, lighting, use of set, use of magic, all of these are stunning and awe-inspiring.

The performers from Slava’s Snowshow are part of a clowning troupe from Russia established in the mid 80’s by Slava Polunin, who have been performing the Snowshow to sell-out audiences internationally since 1997. Being from Russia, the show is very eclectic and esoteric and like Eurovision, still accessible to anyone. Slava’s theatrical clowning company, has toured to comedy festivals internationally and has performed along Cirque du Soleil. Drawing upon comic-relief influences leading back to Medieval traditions, the show incorporates a range of movements, from Theatre of Cruelty, to Theatre of the Absurd and even pantomime, all of which at times pushed the audience into shocked laughter. Their fast-frantic lunacy can be likened to the gags of Charlie Chaplin and the clowns of the circus.

The show is non-linear, helter-skelter and hilarious and this totally confusing randomness is what gives the show its charm; in essence, it allows the audience two hours of imagination where nothing else matters, where the daily grind is left at the door and promptly forgotten. You feel happiness, contentment and you rewarded if you decipher any holistic meaning from the show and even if you don’t, the magnificent spectacle is more than enough. They re-create blizzards, rain, bed-time make-believe and they seem to defy the limitations of the stage and theatre, performing things you thought were impossible. They’re not focused on acrobatics and, they don’t need to. They’re comedians who treat everyone with lip-syncing Italian Operas, then fighting arachnids. As much as I try, I can’t retell this experience. It’s without spoilers and it’s indescribable. Even if you know what’s coming out of the sporadic darkness next, it’s always a surprise, an enjoyable one.

Two words of advice however- don’t leave at intermission as the fun hasn’t stopped in the theatre. Secondly, this show relies on clowning, so don’t attend if you’re coulrophobic.

For more information; http://www.slavasnowshow.com/

 

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