Thursday, October 8, 2009

Alton Ellis versus Sean Paul (And Cover Art Advice!)

So, at the top here we have the late, great Alton Ellis singing I'm Still in Love With You, which is fab of course. At the bottom, we have Sean Paul and Sasha doing surprisingly good work with a more modern take on this track. Sean Paul has gone way too far in the wrong direction these days for my liking, but I think this song does a good job of mixing pop music with some of those elements that make Jamaican music Jamaican music - unlike some of the "crossover" attempts coming out of JA (or American studios) today. I have to admit, I'm a recent convert this line of thinking on this song, but I'm won over. It's a good driving-around-in-the-sunshine song.

Who did it better? promised...more details on the Strivers podcast. Today at 1PM (Eastern Time), join the conversation about cover art and merch design with graphic designer Roy Brooks of Fold Four (you can see some of his work here). Call in, ask questions or just listen. Here's the link. I'll be the one saying "um" all the time and leaving long, awkward silences. Do say hello! We will also be reading and answering a question from an reader.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Michigan and Smiley and Other News

Hey, remember when I used to update my blog? That was fun. So, I'm back! First, I'm back with this offering - Michigan and Smiley: Diseases. It's a great song made even better by the fact that they are suggesting that there might be some link between girls wearing trousers and diseases. Diseases like elephantiasis. Polomyelitis (which I assume is like poliomyelitis, but shorten to fit into a song). Arthritis. And the one diabetes. What's not to like?

Also, I just wanted to put the word out about a few work related things. First, mini-management! I get lots of emails via my site from musicians who need some advise getting a plan together for their music, their tour or that sort of thing but who aren't at the stage when they can afford - or should afford - to pay a full time manager a percentage. I hope mini-management can help with that in-between stage. When you sign up for mini-management, you get:

- A personalized plan for your project
- Unlimited email communication
- Weekly Skype session
- Access to press databases
- A final, updated plan at the end of your membership based on the progress you've made

Mini-management terms are one month, and there's no requirement to sign up for X numbers of months or pap like that. We are just slowly starting to promote mini-management, so to kick things off, you can sign up for mini-management for the bargain basement price of $9.99 per month! Oh yes. Learn more here. Also at that link you'll find our slowly coming together Strivers site and Twitter links.

Next item of business - also a Strivers thing - every Thursday, you can tune in to hear Strivers talking about music industry issues on BlogTalkRadio. For instance, this Thursday, we'll be talking about cover art and merch design with a real, live designer. Stay tuned for details.

Last but not least, if you haven't been following the Indie Artist X project, I hope you'll start! I'm really excited about it. This is the last month - all will be revealed in November. Get the details.

Monday, December 29, 2008

When Heather Met Buju

Well, according to this I haven't blogged in over a month. OK, I buy that. I took the fact that I couldn't remember the password as a sign it had been awhile. Plus, not only have I not blogged for a month, but I went out on Miss Constance. Sure, I like the song, but top billing for over a month? Not so much.

On the plus side, I will not be taking any classes in the spring. Wow, I had to take a minute there. That sentence still makes me a little dizzy with delight. After god knows how long of getting up at 4 AM, seven days a week and working pretty much around the clock, I'm out. I've got so many things going on that I'm excited to get a chance to focus on without, you know, typing something about booking your own shows with one hand while calculating Gini coefficients with the other. Also, I am now officially the world's most educated broke person, so that's exciting as well.

What I'm saying is - I've got more time to blog now.

And since it's been awhile, instead of just saying, "hey, guess what I'm watching on YouTube, cool, huh?", I'll tell you a story. A story about when I met Buju Banton. It goes something like this:

I used to work in a Jamaican restaurant, as I may have mentioned. It's long story. I went there hoping they had mix tapes. (Yes, in a restaurant. I know.) They got me hooked on ginger beer and then eventually offered me a job. Once I started working there, it turned out to be a great source for mix tapes, so ha ha, I was right all along. It was also a great source for other things which has something to do with why it is not around any more, but that's another story.

Anyway, when certain musicians would pass through town, they would eat at the restaurant. As the only waitress, I would clean up on tips on those nights, so that worked out for me. The biggest event we had was when Buju Banton came to town. Instead of our usual set up a big table/cook a big meal routine for other artists, Buju's visit was meant to be something of a party. A radio station came down, there was a butterfly contest (no, I didn't enter - I know my limitations), we took over part of the parking lots for the party - it was a lot of fun. Probably 150 or so people turned up, and like most nights, the kitchen had prepared enough food for maybe 6 or 7, so I spent a good three hours taking abuse from people who wanted to know how a restaurant could run out of food. It was a valid question. All I could do was offer carrot juice and coco bread.

Buju was introduced to everyone working in the restaurant, but he couldn't really be arsed. This was of great disappointment to me and another girl working there who had been playing Make My Day on repeat for several weeks in preparation. Then, however, Buju got asked to do a TV interview for a local college news station (their own campus news network, I guess, I really don't know). Buju decided he wanted to talk about unity, and then he pointed at me and yelled, "You!" Then there was some more yelling, and the next thing I knew, I was being pushed into a seat at a table with Buju with TV cameras being set up in front of us. The cameras rolled, and Buju started talking about us all being one people, and so on and so forth - it was a nice message, but as he went on, he started talking faster and faster, until eventually he lost me, the college kids running the cameras and most of the crowd. Every once in awhile, he would grab my hand and hold it up like I had just won a boxing match and become very animated. I just pretty much smiled and nodded the whole time. I think once he asked me if I agreed with something, and I just said, "yes."

And that was it! Interview was over, I was thanked from my services, and I was soon behind a sink washing dishes for a very long time. I've no clue whatever happened to that interview. That same university had a reggae show every Sunday on their radio station (still do, actually), so I listened that week, but there was nary a mention of Buju.

So, no, that video up there isn't the interview video. It's Make My Day , because, well, remember this? Unfortunately it's one of those "look at an album cover while listening to the song" videos because you can't embed the original video at Universal's request. Idiots.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Count Lasher - Miss Constance

I don't know nearly as much as about Mento music as I'd like to. In fact, until about 15 minutes ago, if you had demanded that I name a Mento song, Miss Constance might have been all I would have been able to come up with. Since I've got to brave the Thanksgiving traffic at first light tomorrow (or as close to first light as I feel safe enough hitting the country back road shortcuts to I-95 by myself), I'm in the process of downloading music for my trip. I've decided that Mento and I will get to know each other a little better as I make my way along the highways and byways of the Carolinas. I suspect eventually I'll give in and put on something I can sing along to, but Mento and I are going to at least break the ice. (Really, I give some pretty incredible performances in my car when I'm on Interstate 95. Fortunately, I'm invisible since no one can see you when you're driving. Everyone knows that.)

But yes, as of 15 minutes or so ago, I've significantly increased my Mento collection, but right now, Miss Constance is still my favorite. This song is hilarious. And very dirty. But really funny. Check it out.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Louder Than Words, Plus Ninjaman vs Supercat Sting '91, Because Why Not?

I've got a big assignment due tomorrow AM, plus a looming, end of the month deadline, so you know what that means - time to update my blog! So, I mentioned before about reading Wake The Town and Tell The People, Norman C. Stolzoff's book about dancehall culture. I was quite late to the party in reading it to begin with, and it took me ages to finish because I kept having to stop and read things Statistics with Stata (it's as good as it sounds), but I finally made it through. And...

Loved it. The approach is very academic, granted, and so that makes it a little clinical and really at odds its subject. On the other hand, I've been a big dancehall fan for a long time now, and I still learned a ton. Plus, wow, there is so, so little written about this kind of music that it's great to see a book like this.

Stolzoff isn't done yet, either. The video above is the trailer for his documentary, Louder Than Words. It's been in the works for a few years now, there was a round of press about it earlier this year, and from what I can find online, he's hoping the film will be released in 2009 - though in the fine tradition of dancehall, info online is hard to come by. Anyone know anything about it? Why do I have a feeling it's not coming to a North Carolina theater soon? Anyway, can't wait to see it. Ricky Trooper, aw, yeah....

And the video below - Ninjaman vs Supercat - sure, it's a little random, as my little sister would say, but hey, I'm watching it. Why not you?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sister Nancy, Killamanjaro, 1996

I was actually looking for another Sister Nancy video, but this is good, no? My neighbor disagrees, I think, because he just banged on the wall. He's got some nerve with his whole, "the door isn't closed unless the whole building shakes" routine, but never mind.

This is good, too. I love the poison bottle.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Calypso Awakening: From the Emory Cook Collection

First, a few items of business:

1. So, I've totally dropped the ball on this whole 30 blogs in 30 days National Blogging Month or whatever it's called. (Thanks for pointing it out, Ed!) But, to be fair, I do blog every day on my site, so I think that totally counts. Right? Right?!?!

2. Neosporin Lip Treatment smells like curry. The taste has a hint of curry as well. I'm down with curry, but that doesn't mean I want to smear it on my lips.

3. Usually when I post about music stuff, I write about whatever song happens to be stuck in my head. Right now, I'm trying to get a song out of my head. Namely, Mrs. Officer by Lil Wayne. Now, don't get me wrong. I see the appeal in the song. But Brother Lou - who in fact has just posted about it - was singing it today forever and now it's playing my head. My neighbor blasted Lil Wayne - namely, Lollipop - over and over again for weeks. Mostly while I was sleeping. I dreamt about Lil Wayne like 5 nights in a row. And no, not like that. It was more like "Heather and Lil Wayne's Madcap Capers." Once, in some kind of Lil Wayne/Seinfeld collision, I dreamt we had to steal files from a doctor's office. Anyway, I don't want to go through that again, so I'm trying to free myself from Mrs. Officer.

Well, that's out of the way, then. So, Calypso Awakening. Emory Cook was an audio engineering wiz, and he's known for all kinds of super duper recording things ("super duper recording things" - yes, you can quote me on that). He had a label called Cook Records, and even though he did work with lots of different kinds of musicians, he's maybe best known for working with musicians in the Caribbean, especially Calypso musicians in Trinidad and Tobago during the 1950s and 1960s. He basically traveled to T&T and hung out recording music and why isn't that my job?

Cook donated all of the tapes from his label to the Smithsonian, hence this collection from Smithsonian Folkways. It's mostly Lord Melody and The Mighty Sparrow, but it's very cool. If you've got eMusic, you can download it there. I couldn't really find any YouTube stuff from Lord Melody or Mighty Sparrow I was crazy about, so here's Lord Kitchener Sugar Bum Bum instead. (Oh, come on, work with me! Oh, and ps, I still have no idea what happened to my comments. Sorry.):