Are You Out There ~ Dar Williams

dar-williamsDar Williams is an American singer-songwriter specializing in pop folk. Hendrik Hertzberg of the The New Yorker has described Williams as “one of America’s very best singer-songwriters.” 

She is a frequent performer at folk festivals and has toured with such artists as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patty Griffin, Ani DiFranco, The Nields, Shawn Colvin, Girlyman, Joan Baez, and Catie Curtis.

Williams was born in Mount Kisco, New York, and grew up in Chappaqua with two older sisters, Meredith and Julie. Her nickname “Dar” originated due to a mispronunciation of “Dorothy” by one of Williams’s sisters. Recently, in an interview with WUKY radio, Dar said her parents wanted to name her Darcy, after the character in Pride and Prejudice, and that they intentionally called her “Dar-Dar”, which she shortened to “Dar” in school.

In interviews, she has described her parents as “liberal and loving” people who early on encouraged a career in songwriting. Williams began playing the guitar at age nine and wrote her first song two years later. However, she was more interested in drama at the time, and majored in theater and religion at Wesleyan University.

Williams moved to Boston, Massachusetts in 1990 to further explore a career in theater. She worked for a year as stage manager of the Opera Company of Boston,  but on the side began to write songs, record demo tapes, and take voice lessons with now Celebrity Voice and Performance Coach Jeannie Deva. Jeannie encouraged her to try performing at coffeehouses, but her early years performing were made difficult by the intimidating nature of the Boston folk music scene, as well as her own battle with stage fright. In 1990, Dar recorded her first album, “I Have No History” produced by Jeannie Deva and engineered by Rob Lehmann at Oak Grove Studios in Malden, MA. One year later in 1991, Dar recorded her second album, “All My Heroes Are Dead” also produced by Jeannie Deva and engineered by Huck Bennert, most of which was recorded at Wellspring Sound in Newton, MA. This album included Dar’s song: “Mark Rothko Song.” The original recording production of this song was later included in her third album “The Honesty Room.” In 1993 Williams moved to Northampton, Massachusetts. Early in Williams’s music career, she opened for Joan Baez, who would make her relatively well known by recording some of her songs (Williams also dueted with Baez on Ring Them Bells). Her growing popularity has since relied heavily on community coffeehouses, public radio, and an extensive fan base on the Internet.

Recurrent themes in Williams’s songs include religion, adolescence, gender issues, anti-commercialism, misunderstood relationships, loss, humor, and geography.

Williams’ early work spoke clearly of her upbringing in 1970s and 80s suburbia - of alienation, and the hypocrisyevident in the post-WWII middle class. On the track “Anthem” on her early tape All My Heroes Are Dead, she sang, “I know there’s blood in the pavement and we’ve turned the fields to sand.”

Williams’ songs often address gender typing, roles, and inequities. “You’re Aging Well” on The Honesty Room discusses adolescent body image, ageism and self-loathing in detail. The song ends with the singer finding an unnamed female mentor — “the woman of voices” — who points her toward a more enlightened and mature point of view. Joan Baez covered the song in concert and later dueted with Williams on tours.

Are You Out There

Are You Out There” is off the 2001 Out There Live album by Dar Williams.

Dar said she wrote this song about the radio station 93.9FM WRSI The River, Woodstock, NY.

Underdogs who turn the tables, indie versus major labels…

“WRSI is practically the only station in the area not owned by Clear Channel or the like, and it shows: they’re also the only one that plays “madmen poets, vinyl vision grungy bands.”

Jimmy Olsen used to DJ for the station, and Johnny Memphis has been the current DJ for quite some time now (and still is).

Are You Out There – Dar Williams

Perhaps I am a miscreation
No one knows the truth there is no future here
And you’re the DJ speaks to my insomnia
And laughs at all I have to fear
Laughs at all I have to fear
You always play the madmen poets
Vinyl vision grungy bands
You never know who’s still awake
You never know who understands and

Are you out there, can you hear this?
Jimmy Olson, Johnny Memphis,
I was out here listening all the time
And though the static walls surround me
You were out there and you found me
I was out here listening all the time

Last night we drank in parking lots
And why do we drink? I guess we do it cause
And when I turned your station on
You sounded more familiar than that party was
You were more familiar than that party
It’s the first time I stayed up all night
It’s getting light I hear the birds
I’m driving home on empty streets
I think I put my shirt on backwards

Are you out there, can you hear this
Jimmy Olson , Johnny Memphis
I was out here listening all the time
And though the static walls surround me
You were out there and you found me
I was out here listening all the time

And what’s the future, who will choose it?
Politics of love and music
Underdogs who turn the tables
Indie versus major labels
There’s so much to see through
Like our parents do more drugs than we do
Oh

Corporate parents, corporate towns
I know every TV set that has them lit
They preach that I should save the world
They pray that I won’t do a better job of it
Pray that I won’t do a better job
So tonight I turned your station on just so I’d be understood
Instead another voice said I was just too late
And just no good

Calling Olson, Calling Memphis
I am calling, can you hear this?
I was out here listening all the time
And I will write this down
And then I will not be alone again yeah
I was out here listening
Oh yeah I was out here listening
Oh yeah I am out here listening all the time

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The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh) ~ The Tokens

the-tokens-2The Tokens are an American male doo-wop vocal group from Brooklyn, New York. They are best-known for their chart-topping 1961 single, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”

The group was formed in 1955 at Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln High School, and was known as the Linc-Tones. Originally featuring members Neil Sedaka, Hank Medress, Eddie Rabkin, and Cynthia Zolotin, Rabkin was replaced by Jay Siegel in 1956, and the band recorded its first single, “While I Dream” that same year. In 1957 Sedaka and Zolotin left the band, leaving only Jay and Hank, who would recruit two additional band members and record the single “Picture in my Wallet” as Darrell & the Oxfords. Finally establishing its most famous name and lineup, the band become known as The Tokens in 1960 after Jay and Hank recruited 13-year-old multi-instrumentalist and first tenor Mitch Margo and his baritone brother Phil Margo.

In early 1961, The Tokens released a single for Warwick Records entitled “Tonight I Fell In Love,” which went to #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and earned them an opportunity to appear on American Bandstand. The popularity that the band garnered as a result of this performance brought them new recording opportunities, culminating in their famous cover of Solomon Linda’s “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” for the Radio Corporation of America. Jay Siegel’s characteristic lead vocals helped the song rise to #1 on the Billboard charts, where it remained for three weeks.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

“Mbube” (Zulu for “lion”) was first recorded by its writer, Solomon Linda, and his group, The Evening Birds, in 1939. Gallo Record Company paid Linda a single fee for the recording and no royalties. “Mbube” became a hit throughout South Africa and sold about 100,000 copies during the 1940s. The song became so popular that Mbube lent its name to a style of African a cappella music, though the style has since been mostly replaced by isicathamiya (a softer version).

Alan Lomax brought the song to the attention of Pete Seeger of the folk group The Weavers. It was on one of several records Lomax lent to Seeger. After having performed the song for at least a year in their concerts, in November, 1951, they recorded their version entitled “Wimoweh”, a mishearing of the original song’s chorus of ‘uyimbube’ (meaning “you’re a lion”). Pete Seeger had made some of his own additions to the melody. The song was credited exclusively to Paul Campbell.

Pete Seeger explains in one recording, “it refers to an old legend down there, [about] their last king, who was known as Chaka The Lion. Legend says, Chaka The Lion didn’t die when Europeans took over our country; he simply went to sleep, and he’ll wake up some day.” (See “Senzenina / Wimoweh” on Seeger’s With Voices Together We Sing (Live).)

It was published by Folkways. Their 1952 version, arranged by Gordon Jenkins, became a top-twenty hit in the U.S., and their live 1957 recording turned it into a folk music staple. This version was covered in 1959 by The Kingston Trio.

New lyrics to the song were written by George Weiss, Luigi Creatore, and Hugo Peretti, based very loosely upon the meaning of the original song. The Tokens’ 1961 cover of this version rose to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and still receives fairly frequent replay on many American oldies radio stations.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight - Solomon Linda, George Weiss, Luigi Creatore, and Hugo Peretti

(A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh)
(A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh)

In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

Near the village the peaceful village
The lion sleeps tonight
Near the village the quiet village
The lion sleeps tonight

Hush my darling don’t fear my darling
The lion sleeps tonight
Hush my darling don’t fear my darling
The lion sleeps tonight

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Promise ~ Ben Howard

Ben Howard  is an English singer-songwriter, born in London. He moved to Devon in his teens.

Howard was raised by musical parents who exposed him to lots of their favorite records from singer-songwriter artists from the 1960s and 1970s, such as Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, which were a big influence on him.

After attending King Edward IV Community College and Torquay Boys’ Grammar School and then a short stint studying Journalism at University College Falmouth, Cornwall, Ben decided to focus on making music full time, making melodic rootsy folk music, with progressively darker lyrics. He began to build up a reputation not just around Devon, but elsewhere in the UK as well. After a month of sold out dates across Europe and the UK Howard was eventually asked to sign to Island Records.

Promise

Promise is the last song on Ben Howard’s 2011 album, Every Kingdom.

Promise – Ben Howard

And meet me there, bundles of flowers,
We wait through the hours of cold
Winter shall howl at the walls,
Tearing down doors of time.

Shelter as we go…

And promise me this:
You’ll wait for me only,
Scared of the lonely arms.

Surface, far below these words

And maybe, just maybe I’ll come home

Who am I, darling to you?
Who am I?
Gonna tell you stories of mine
Who am I?

Who am I, darling for you?
Who am I?
Gonna be a burden in time, lonely
Who am I, to you?

Who am I, darling for you?
Who am I?
Going to be a burden

Who am I, darling to you?
Who am I?

I come alone here
I come alone here

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Kid Shreds on Accordion

Video of the Day – March 19, 2014

Normally, I cannot stand the accordion.  But this kid is amazing.

Update: Thanks to Sinogirl, the instrument is a bayan, a chromatic button accordion developed in Russia in the early 20th century and differs from the Western chromatic button accordion in some details of construction:

  • Reeds are broader and rectangular (rather than trapezoidal).
  • Reeds are often attached in large groups to a common plate (rather than in pairs); the plates are screwed to the reed block (rather than attached with wax).
  • The melody-side keyboard is attached near the middle of the body (rather than at the rear).
  • Reeds are generally not tuned with tremolo.
  • Register switches may be operated with the chin on some larger models.
  • The diminished seventh chord row is shifted, so that the diminished seventh G chord is where one would expect the diminished seventh C chord in the Stradella bass system.
  • Converter switches to go from standard pre-set chords to free bass (individual bass notes) are common on the larger instruments.
  • Newer instruments may feature a register, where every tone played actually produces a perfect fifth.

The differences in internal construction give the bayan a different tone color from western instruments, especially the bass has a much fuller sound. Because of their range and purity of tone, bayans are often the instrument of choice for accordion virtuosi who perform classical and contemporary classical music.

[Source: Wikipedia - Bayan Accordion]

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Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog) ~ Brett Dennen

brett-dennen-rothbury-01Brett Dennen is a folk/pop singer and songwriter from Northern California.

Brett Dennen attended Camp Jack Hazard, a residential summer camp, as a child and adolescent, and worked there as a counselor. He has continued to help the camp, performing at a fundraiser in February 2012 for the Jack and Buena Foundation, which now runs Camp Jack Hazard. Brett’s older sister and younger brother also attended the camp, and his mother served on the board of directors of the Jack and Buena Foundation, which now runs the Camp Jack Hazard.

Brett Dennen attended UC Santa Cruz from 2000-2004, where he was a student at Kresge College. He led numerous anti-smoking campaigns on campus, and was instrumental in removing ash trays from building entrances.

Dennen has been a part of The Mosaic Project, a San Francisco Bay Area-based nonprofit organization, since its inception. The Mosaic Project works towards a peaceful future by uniting young children of diverse backgrounds, providing them with essential skills to thrive in an increasingly diverse society, and empowering them to strive for peace.

In 2004, Dennen released his self-titled first album, Brett Dennen. His second album, So Much More, includes the singles “Ain’t No Reason”, “She’s Mine” and “Darlin’ Do Not Fear”. Dennen also contributed a cover of “Private Life” to the 2006 tribute album Drink To Bones That Turn To Dust: A Toast To Oingo Boingo.

In an interview with American Songwriter magazine, Dennen acknowledged Paul Simon’s significant influence on his music as well as commenting that Paul Simon’s “”Graceland is my all time favorite album.”

Brett opened for John Mayer on his tour in 2008.

As The Mosaic Project’s Resident Rock Star, Dennen created an original musical curriculum for the program, which they released as an album called Children’s Songs for Peace and a Better World, in 2003. It won a Children’s Music Web 2004 Award and a Parent’s Choice 2004 Approved Award.

Dennen was named by Rolling Stone magazine as an “Artist to Watch” and, in 2008, Entertainment Weekly called him one of its eight “Guys on the Rise”. He has attended festivals such as the Rothbury Music Festival in Michigan, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Lyons Folk Festival, and the Mile High Music Festival in Colorado.

In 2008, Dennen, along with Jason Mraz, contributed the song “Long Road to Forgiveness” to the Survival International charity album Songs for Survival. Earlier in the fall, Dennen toured Australia with Pete Murray. In late October, Hope for the Hopeless, Dennen’s third album, was released on the Downtown/Dualtone partnership. The song “Ain’t Gonna Lose You” was featured on Grey’s Anatomy and topped the iTunes folk charts. The record reached number 6 in the digital charts, and was followed by a successful mini-tour.

On August 1, 2009, Dennen performed at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island.

In 2010 Dennen played at the Oulipo Ballroom in Kentucky. He played a mixture of Paul Simon covers along with unreleased tracks from his upcoming album. His fourth album, Loverboy, was released on April 12, 2011. In 2009, Dennen’s song “She’s Mine” was featured on the soundtrack for the movie According to Greta; in 2010, Dennen’s song “Darlin’ Do Not Fear” was featured on the soundtrack for the TV show Parenthood.

On October 24 “Sweet Persuasion” was featured on the TV show Parenthood”

Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog)

Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog)” is on Brett Dennen’s fourth studio album Loverboy.  It is also the opening theme song for the NBC sitcom,  About a Boy.

Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog) – Brett Dennen

Well, maybe it’s the common curse
Maybe things get bad before they get worse
I don’t wanna become someone
Who can’t live up to what already done

Don’t keep it just to figure it out
When it rains and pours, and then it runs out
I was crying on the bathroom floor
And just when I thought I could take no more

Well, here comes a comeback
The kid is back, is back on track
And there goes my hero
He’s an underdog, he’s coming out on top
And come on, come on back, that’s my dog

It was a park of the trailer park
She went whistling through the big yard
She came to raise the dead
And I was a stain on her unmade bed

I found a lover and then I lost myself
And now I’m nowhere, she’s somewhere else
And the boys with the brown, skinny legs
Said you’re on and on, she sees but I say

Hey, here comes a comeback
The kid is back, is back on track
And there goes my hero, he’s an underdog
He’s coming out on top

And everybody loves a comeback
So come on back, now, comeback, comeback
Everybody loves the underdog
Singing that’s my dog, that’s my dog

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na
That’s my dog
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na
That’s my dog

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na
That’s my dog
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na
Hey

I’ve never been laid so low
Never been laid so low, low, low, low
Why was I the last to know?
Why was I the last to know?

Hear the words, I’ve never been laid so low
Never been laid so low, low, low, low
Don’t let me be the last to know
Don’t let me be the last to know

Here comes a comeback
The kid is back, is back on track

And everybody loves a comeback
So come on back, now, comeback, comeback
Everybody loves the underdog
Singing that’s my dog, that’s my dog

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na
That’s my dog
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na
That’s my dog

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na
That’s my dog
Na, na, na, na, that’s my dog
That’s my, that’s my dog

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na
That’s my dog
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na
That’s my dog

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na
That’s my dog
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na
That’s my dog

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Caught By the Light ~ The Boxer Rebellion

180px-Boxer_rebellionThe Boxer Rebellion is an international indie band formed in London, United Kingdom around 2001, consisting of Tennessee-native Nathan Nicholson (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Australian Todd Howe (lead guitar), and Englishmen Adam Harrison (bass guitar) and Piers Hewitt (drums).

In 2000, singer Nathan Nicholson left his hometown of Maryville, Tennessee after the death of his mother and moved to London. Nicholson connected with guitarist Todd Howe through an online posting for musicians that resulted in the creation of a firm friendship and the beginnings of a band.

They soon attracted the attention of drummer Piers Hewitt, who was just graduating from London Music School. Their first project was known as Slippermen. Rob Loflin, a friend of Nicholson’s from Tennessee, played bass on early sessions before leaving the band and being replaced by current bassist Adam Harrison, who graduated from London Music School along with Hewitt. As Slippermen they produced a single and an EP, “Lens” and The Traveler respectively, but received limited commercial success.

After re-branding as The Boxer Rebellion and with a massive overhaul in their sound they reworked their ensemble and began building a fan-base.

Last minute support slots at the London Astoria for alt-rock super group A Perfect Circle on 2 October 2003 as well as for Lenny Kravitz at Wembley Arena on 7 July 2004 and The Cooper Temple Clause led to more awareness in the UK music press culminating in widespread features in magazines such as Kerrang, The Fly and TNT.

As a result of the PlayLouder competition, in June 2003, the band played the Glastonbury New Bands tent ahead of Keane. Shortly after this appearance they were signed by Alan McGee to his ill-fated Poptonesrecord label.

Their first single “Watermelon” was released by Poptones on 4 October 2003. It featured three tracks including “The New Heavy” which appeared on their debut LP Exits. The band then recorded the self-titled The Boxer Rebellion EP which featured the same songs as the “Watermelon” single with two new additions, “Code Red” and “In Pursuit”, both songs which would be released as singles later. The EP was produced by Pete Hoffman and mastered by Ray Staff.

Following the release of their debut EP, the band were to embark on a tour with The Killers. However while on tour with The Raveonettes, Nicholson became seriously ill with a burst appendix which required 5 hours of surgery and months of recovery forcing them to cancel the forthcoming tour.

The Boxer Rebellion emerged at the tail end of the Oasis and Radiohead-dominated era of British Music as part of a newer scene of British bands adding an element of post-rock to the rock charts. The band’s first single “Watermelon” was greeted with great enthusiasm by the British music press with The Fly magazine describing the band as ‘the current Bright Young Things of Britrock, sounding like a bubbling mixture of The Cooper Temple Clause with the added bonus of Verve-esque melodies and Music-esque madness’. Kerrang Magazine in 2009 recommended the band for fans of Muse and Biffy Clyro, the latter of whom The Boxer Rebellion supported in the UK during 2004. Q magazine described their Union album as ‘redolent of The Bends-era Radiohead’.  Stereoboard stated the band as ‘clearly taking influence from the recent success of bands such as The National and British Sea Power’.

Todd Howe, the band’s lead guitarist is known to be an avid Frank Zappa fan, owning over 36 of his records.

Caught By the Light

Caught By the Light” is the fifth song off the album, The Cold Still by the band,  The Boxer Rebellion.  The track has been used on NCIS, Nikita, and Shameless (US version).

Caught By the Light - Nathan Nicholson

Caught by the light aware but asleep
Never as close as the friends that you keep
Drifting away on one final breath
The further you climb, calm silhouette

And takes you along, long, long, long
And takes you along, long, long, long

Far from a world ailing to live
Far from the wreckage you were left in

And the crossing is over where the righteous remain
In the memory it’s deeper, survived by a name
The rest is sufficient, a midnight complaint
Left waiting in silence, left only to sleep

It takes you along, long, long, long
And takes you along.

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Do I Wanna Know? ~ Arctic Monkeys

ArcticMonkeysEM090511Arctic Monkeys are an English indie rock band formed in 2002 in High Green, a suburb of Sheffield. The band consists of Alex Turner, (lead vocals, lead/rhythm guitar), Jamie Cook (rhythm/lead guitar), Nick O’Malley (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Matt Helders (drums, backing vocals). Former member Andy Nicholson(bass guitar, backing vocals) left the band in 2006 shortly after its debut album was released.

The band have released five studio albums: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006), Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007), Humbug (2009), Suck It and See (2011) and AM (2013), as well as one live album At the Apollo (2008).

Arctic Monkeys were heralded as one of the first group of acts to come to the public attention via the Internet (fan-based sites rather than from the band), with commentators suggesting they represented the possibility of a change in the way in which new bands are promoted and marketed. They are also regarded as one of the most prominent bands to be part of the post-punk revival in the UK, after achieving commercial success and spawning two number one singles with its debut album.

Do I Wanna Know?

Do I Wanna Know?” is a song by English indie rock band Arctic Monkeys from their fifth studio album AM. The song was released as a single on 19 June 2013 together with an accompanying music video, and is now available for digital download via iTunes. A 7″ vinyl edition of the single was released on 22 July 2013, with a B-side titled “2013″.

The song was first played live on 22 May 2013 in Ventura, California, at the first concert of the Arctic Monkeys’ AM Tour. During the tour, “Do I Wanna Know?” is played as the opening number.

“Do I Wanna Know?” has peaked at number 11 in the UK Singles Chart, charted in several other countries, and was the first Arctic Monkeys song to have ever entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States, peaking at number 70 in March 2014.

Do I Wanna Know? – Alex Turner

Have you got color in your cheeks’
Do you ever get the feeling that you can’t shift the tide
That sticks around like something’s in your teeth
And some aces up your sleeve
I had no idea that you’re in deep
I dreamt about you near me every night this week
How many secrets can you keep’
‘Cause there’s this tune I found that makes me think of you somehow
When I play it on repeat
Until I fall asleep
Spilling drinks on my settee

(Do I wanna know?)
If this feeling flows both ways
(Sad to see you go)
Was sorta hoping that you’d stay
(Baby we both know)
That the nights were mainly made for saying
things that you can’t say tomorrow day

Crawlin’ back to you.

Ever thought of calling when you’ve had a few?
‘Cause I always do
Maybe I’m too busy being yours to fall for somebody new
Now I’ve thought it through

Crawling back to you

So have you got the guts?
Been wondering if your heart’s still open and
if so I wanna know what time it shuts
Simmer down and pucker up
I’m sorry to interrupt it’s just I’m constantly
on the cusp of trying to kiss you
I don’t know if you feel the same as I do
But we could be together, if you wanted to

(Do I wanna know?)
If this feeling flows both ways
(Sad to see you go)
Was sorta hoping that you’d stay
(Baby we both know)
That the nights were mainly made for saying
things that you can’t say tomorrow day

Crawling back to you

Ever thought of calling when you’ve had a few? (calling when you’ve had a few)
‘Cause I always do (’cause I always do)
Maybe I’m too busy being yours to fall for somebody new
Now I’ve thought it through

Crawling back to you, (do I wanna know?)
If this feeling flows both ways
(Sad to see you go)
Was sorta hoping that you’d stay
(Baby we both know)
That the nights were mainly made for saying
things that you can’t say tomorrow day

(Do I wanna know?)
Too busy being yours to fall
(Sad to see you go)
Ever thought of calling darling?
(Do I wanna know)
Do you want me crawling back to you?

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