Thursday, December 23, 2010

It Only Takes a Generation

This morning my seven year old was dancing around the kitchen singing Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman". I moved to the South when I was five. My parents must be second guessing their decision to leave the suburbs of Detroit.  "Hell, Yeah."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Madonna Nash is Fabulous.

I have gone to the website and listened to the music of almost every musician who has (surprisingly and graciously) followed me on Twitter. So far, I have bought music from one, Madonna Nash, a singer from Wilmington, NC. She has an engaging persona on Twitter. I don't think that's the reason I bought her album over that of another artist, but it couldn't have hurt. Nash seems sweet and generous. She is also incredibly beautiful. Yes, the hair in that photo is hers. I asked her.
Her album, "Madonna Nash", is without a doubt my best recent album purchase. I like every song on the album except one. Most remarkable is that I'm saying this about a female singer. I usually prefer a male voice and almost exclusively buy music from male artists. (Isn't that awful!). Madonna has a warm, sometimes feisty tone with a nice soft twang. Her lyrics are about the stuff that occupies most women's minds: love or the lack thereof, handling a man, self-esteem, and home. She also has made a country album without including even one "I'm so country and here are my qualifications" song, a commendable accomplishment.

The album opens with the single "Dirty Little Secret". It's a catchy song about keeping a secret. According to posts on her Facebook page it appears to be getting some initial radio play. It wouldn't surprise me if we end up hearing it often. "Swinging Door" is probably my favorite song on the album. She's singing with some power and uses one of my favorite expressions "Don't let that swinging door hit you..." Miranda, Carrie, watch out, there's another angry blond headed your way.  The other song I really like is "Whiskey Whispers". It's about a guy coming home after hanging out at a bar all night, lookin' for some lovin'. We need version of this song for golf widows where he comes home after a day on the course, lookin' for some supper. I was interested to read the reviewer for The Mountain Times  say that this song is cliche, mainly because of the boozy theme. I thought the same thing first time I heard it, but after listening to the album multiple times, have since changed my mind.

The same reviewer from the Mountain Times says that the song "Firefly" is cheesy because of some of its references to a Georgia peach. Wrong. Peaches are sweet and maybe a little sappy and so is "Firefly", yet the line "You're my firefly in a mason jar"is a lovely visual reference. The sugary sweetness of "Firefly" makes me think more of my child than my husband. On the other hand, the sultry escapist love song "Out of Town" could motivate me to make some last minute reservations at a B&B in the mountains.

There are a few very slow songs on the album. "Beautiful" is rather heartbreaking; a woman contemplating the loss of her her man to a younger woman. "Yes she's pretty but I'm beautiful." There is a woman close to me to whom this song applies perfectly. I'd send it to her if I didn't think it would make her weep. The harm to ones self-esteem and the underlying conflict between wanting a man back after he's had an affair, and knowing that he really shouldn't be invited back is a real one.

I enjoy listening to Madonna Nash's album from front to back (excluding the final song, "Watch my Purse"). The album has terrific flow and is chock full of good, solid songs. Quite frankly, it doesn't sound like a debut album. It's ripe. Wishing Madonna Nash enough success to fill the back of the truck that will eventually move her to the top of the country charts.
If you want to read another review by a fellow tweeter and fan of Madonna Nash, read this one by Lovin' Lyrics.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Coin: Ride What You Can't Change, or Yo! Support Your Friend's Efforts and Good Things Will Come

 Continuing the discussion from my post "Oy Vey, Facebook has Changed My Consumer Behavior"

About a year ago a boarding school friend's status update mentioned the presale of a CD by Charles Danek, who I remember as a Beatles obsessed teenager. He was preselling CDs to raise the money to produce the album. I said, "Hey, why not? I'd love to help Charlie out." I sent him the payment for the CD and totally forgot about it. Yesterday, to my surprise, the CD arrived in the mail accompanied by a long and thoughtful thank-you note. His band (of collaborators, according to his website) is called "Coin" and the CD title is "Ride What You Can't Change." Here is his website

After 22 years, I had no idea what sort of music to expect from Charles Danek. Luckily, it says right on the cover "a Jazz/Americana travelogue" and that's exactly what it is.  Some of the songs are jazzier, some are more Americana/Folksy. It's all a little sleepy and rather lovely. I'm trapped in the house by 1/2 an inch of snow and ice today and Coin is making it harder to get out of my jammies.  One thing is for sure, I am going to listen to this album more than I expected to when I prepaid for it. It will get loaded up into itunes and enter the shuffle. It may become my snowy day album.

My favorite song on the album is "American Vespers".  A design professor once told my class that it's better for a product to be interesting than pretty, but if it's both, that's ideal.  "American Vespers" is both. Additional voices join Charles and the song sounds like one of the desert travel photos on the inside of the CD case.  I asked Charles who the voices are, because the credits aren't specific. The gravelly older voice that starts the song, setting the mood, (and this is cool, so brace yourself) is Ronny Cox, the actor who played Drew, the banjo playing canoer, in "Deliverance".

I prefer the songs on the album that skew in the direction of  Americana to those displaying strong Jazz influences because I'm not a big Jazz fan.  Despite my prejudices, the jazzy and rather groovy "Get it in Gear" has grown on me in a few listens. The song I would love to hear recorded by a singer with some twang, a big set of lungs, and large noisy band is "Ride".  Country radio? (and I say that most affectionately)

So finally what is my point? First, take a chance on an old friend. I could not be more pleased with the outcome of this exchange. I asked Charles how many CDs he presold via Facebook and other social networking sights and it was a very small number. This approach did not fund his project.

On one hand I'm surprised, because buying an album from someone you like, before it's even recorded, doesn't seem like something one needs to over think. The worst that can happen is the CD never gets recorded, and you lose $15. The best case scenario is that in a few months you receive an enjoyable CD in the mail.

Alternately, I'm not surprised at all that the response was so weak. I am bombarded every day with buy this/listen to this/look at this/vote for this status updates and Tweets from musicians, and at some point one just stops reacting to them. Unfortunately, Social Networking sites have become one big promotional mosh pit.

Looking forward to your next album, Charlie! Now how many versions are there of Strawberry Fields?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Why Have I Started Watching Award Shows at 40? American Country Awards

I've made it through half my life, plus or minus, without watching or caring about award shows, so why start now?  Since I no longer smoke, drink in excess, or party like I used to before entering the world of suburban family bliss, give me this one stupidity.

The inaugural (everyone seems to be using that word) American Country Awards (ACA) were Monday night. It hasn't gotten good reviews. It was a poorly produced and confusing combination of  award and variety show. The funniest blog coverage that I've read is The 9513's live blog.  If you didn't see the show it probably won't make any sense.  The Boot has a  review up that covers everything. I'm only going to comment on the few parts of the show that stuck with me.

The ACA is an award show where fans voted for their favorite in each category from a list of nominees. This turned musicians into an annoying chorus of self-promoters chanting "Vote for me! Vote for me!" for over a month. Of course, I voted for my absolute favorite, Joe Nichols, and my honorary favorite (because he's MOT), Jaron and Long Road to Love. Alas, neither of them won anything, but show organizers must have been channeling my vibes.  They sent the two of them onto the stage together to introduce someone. As far as award show pleasure goes, Joe and Jaron on stage together is about as good as it gets for me. It could only be improved upon by their singing a duet and then Jaron wishing everyone a Happy Hanukkah.
Trace Adkins as host exceeded my expectations, which were very low. Award show host probably isn't a natural role for him. The whole bit where he had two hot busty ladies participating in his silly skits was rather misogynistic but, like the New York Times article "No Sex Please, We're Middle Class" states (somewhere in the middle of the article), traditional and bawdy gender roles are part of country music. Perhaps country music lovers all over are enjoying the physical company of their partners more often because of these antics. We can only hope.

Easton Corbin was a hoot. He was either very excited to win, couldn't hear because of his earphones, or forgot he was on TV.  He shouted his thank yous like at a live concert in a stadium. As far as the "I'm so country and here are my qualifications" songs go, Corbin's "A Little More Country than That" is a charming one. His win for breakthrough artist of the year was deserved and his performance, enjoyable.

Toby Keith was honored for his videos and performed "Bullets in the Gun". (Click to read previous post on the "Bullets in the Gun" video.) If I had to sit and watch all of one musician's videos in one sitting, I'd choose Toby's. I may have come close to doing that on an occasion, so I second the honor.

The Band Perry, three cuties with remarkable hair, won song of the year with "If I Die Young". I was following a number of country music bloggers and fans on Twitter during the show and was surprised how many of them don't like this song. I love this song. It's a beautiful, sad and poetic song. Unlike most country songs, the lyrics are sophisticated enough that they require a few listens to digest. Good for the Band Perry!

I liked the fact that they honored the careers of Rascal Flatts and Alan Jackson, but really didn't like the medleys. I fast forwarded through Rascal Flatt's and cringed through Alan Jackson's, which was unfortunately a bit awkward. Unless it is the Beachboys or Queen, please, no more live medleys.

To the often asked question, does country music really need the ACA, my answer is maybe.  I do think the ACA was much more enjoyable to watch than the CMT Artists of the Year melodrama that was on TV last week. If they do the ACA again next year, it will hopefully be a better produced show.