Archive for category: Music

Playing For Change: Peace Through Music

04 Jan
January 4, 2011

I first came across this music video about two years ago and it has since become one of my favorites of all time. It is a cover of “Stand By Me”, the Ben E. King classic (one of the greatest songs ever written in my opinion), from the award-winning documentary, “Playing For Change: Peace Through Music”. 

The Playing for Change project is the brainstorm of Mark Johnson and Playing for Change Foundation Executive Director, Whitney Kroenke. Mark’s idea was to travel around the United States with a mobile recording studio and capture musical moments from street performers across America. As Johnson and Kroenke traveled, they realized how extraordinary it would be connect all of those talented musicians to one another. They came up with the idea of starting a song in one location, then taking the partially completed song and the recording studio on to the next musician, until the song was complete. 

Through this process, they discovered how music transcends cultural barriers. 

As they continued to travel, it became apparent that their project was much bigger than any one country and so they decided to continue around the world, meeting and recording new musicians internationally, and continuing to grow their songs along the way. 

Since its introduction, Playing for Change has received international acclaim from New York to Africa, to Brazil, to India and beyond. The street performers in their videos have appeared on shows like The Tonight Show and they’ve raised many thousands of dollars for instruments, musical schools and programs benefitting students in locations around the globe. Most recently, Yoko Ono assisted by supporting Playing for Change with the recording of the song, “Imagine” that also included video of John  Lennon himself.  
Sign up at www.playingforchange.com or www.playingforchange.org for updates, exclusive content and to join the movement to help build schools, connect students and inspire communities in need through music. You’ll also find the full library of music videos for Playing for Change which you can purchase on DVD. Make sure to check out another one of my favorites, “Don’t Worry”.

Concerts I’ve Seen

02 Dec
December 2, 2010

Concerts I've Seen

I’m guessing that somewhere out there, perhaps on Facebook or maybe inside the Apple Apps store, there has to be a music application that allows you to list all of the concerts you’ve ever attended. 

 

Maybe it does something fancy like allowing you to pull corresponding album covers or band logos into your list, along with the date of the events; concert venues; friends you went with; and the opportunity to upload photos or videos from the shows, and perhaps some notes. 

 

If such an app doesn’t exist, then someone should promptly develop it (I’ll take a 15% cut on revenue for the concept, and the rest is yours). Or, perhaps if I have time one day, I’ll investigate it further and if I can’t find anything similar, we’ll develop it ourselves at Renaissance Creative.

 

Regardless of whether such an app currently exists, I’ve always wanted to create one of these lists for myself. 

 

I’m a huge music fan and I’ve seen a pretty fair number of concerts in my time ranging in genre from Rock, to Rap, to Country, to Punk, To Pop, to Reggae, to Christian and so on. In addition, I’ve been fortunate in my time, for my age, to see some truly iconic acts, such as Elvis Presley and The Clash, to name two. 

 

So, I’m going to go low-tech here and just make a list. 

 

There’s no way I could ever recall exact dates, nor the names of the specific venues (though I could probably recollect all the cities), so I won’t even try. I will try to list them chronologically, generally– as best my memory serves. I’ll also include notes on interesting facts about shows that merited it. I have a feeling I’ll be updating this post from time to time, as I recall additional shows. I’ve already been writing it for two days.

 

Ready?

 

 

Elvis Presley 1977, just a few months before he died. My first concert (with my parents and grandmother), at age 13. I was so embarrassed to be there… until he sang. He had an incredibly strong voice and I was pretty blown away. I went on to become a big fan. Still am.

 

Kenny Rogers – 2x with parents

 

John Denver – 2x with parents. Still a big fan.

 

Styx – My first concert with friends, if I recall correctly

 

Boston

 

Foreigner

 

The Cars – 2x

 

Rush

 

Van Halen – David Lee Roth got so drunk drinking Jack Daniels from a bottle that he forgot the words to the songs and had to stop (singing, not drinking).

 

April Wine

 

U2 – Touring behind their second album, War.

 

The Clash – So thankful I got to see this band at an outdoor venue in Daytona Beach before they broke up. They were incredible!

 

Billy Squire

 

SAGA (not to be confused with GAGA)

 

The Police – 2x

 

David Bowie – So awesome. Another cherished claim.

 

Hoodoo Gurus – I did not miss the rare opportunity to see this iconic Australian surf band right here in Jax.

 

The Untouchables

 

Michael Jackson / The Jacksons – 1984. He / they played 3 consecutive shows in the old Gator Bowl (now Everbank Field), with 136,000 tickets sold at the peak of his career. I went for the sheer spectacle.

 

Tommy Tutone – The former bassist lives down the road in St. Augustine and work at The Surf Station. I saw them at Grad Night in Disney World.

 

Animotion

 

Joe Jackson – Front row center in Miami. My friend Danny knew someone.

 

Flock of Seagulls

 

Oingo Boingo – 3x

 

The Fixx

 

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

 

The The – 2x  One of my all-time favorite bands. I plan to write a separate post for this still undiscovered and underrated group (Actually solo performer, Matt Johnson). 

 

New Order – Disappointing live.

 

UB40 – Also disappointing live.

 

INXS – Brilliant when Hutchence was alive. I would love to see where they would have gone with him.

 

George Michael

 

Beastie Boys – 2x

 

Run DMC – Hung with Run at the bar after the show! (OK, sat next to him, anyway)

 

Thrill Kill Cult

 

Consolidated

 

Social Distortion – 2x, Loudest Concert I ever heard. My ears were just ringing. I know I lost hearing there, but they were fantastic.

 

Depeche Mode

 

Gene Loves Jezebel

 

Love and Rockets

 

REM – 3x

 

The Cure – 2x

 

Belly

 

Radiohead

 

Gin Blossoms – 2x

 

Old 97’s

 

Jane’s Addicition – 2x

 

Red Hot Chilli Peppers

 

Nine Inch Nails – 3x. I met Trent Reznor personally, who actually dated and lived with my ex-girlfriend, Beth Narducci, for a couple of years in New Orleans. Nice guy. Humble and unassuming. I’ll write a separate post on that sometime.

 

Public Enemy

 

Jesus Jones

 

Ministry – Saw them in an industrial warehouse, a perfect setting. Exhausted, I tried to climb out of the mosh pit, but was thrown back in by some punk grrrrls. Thought I was going to suffocate.

 

Toad the Wet Sprocket

 

Morrissey

 

Pearl Jam

 

Adam Ant – Another performer I’m so glad I got to see. The “Bad Boy” Brit rocked a little bar in Orlando. Two drummers. Played all his hits. It was great.

 

Sublime / Long Beach Dub All-stars – One of my all time favorites, but I missed the opportunity to see them with Bradley Nowell (Was invited and urged to go by a friend). 

I hate to see such gifted souls lose themselves to drugs and other demons like that.

 

Chris Issak – Great performer. Talented musician and fuuny. Love all his stuff. 

 

Fiona Apple

 

Duran Duran

 

The Cult – House of Blues. Small venue, great concert.

 

Elvis Costello – He’s a hero of mine. Intelligent. Original. Diverse. Passionate. Saw him at the Hard Rock Café in Orlando.

 

Jimmy Buffet – 3x I love Buffet. His concerts are getting older and “grayer”, but he is pure “escapism”, which I respond well to.

 

Eagles – Great band. So many songs.

 

Beach Boys – Older, but what amazing voices and tunes.

 

Elton John – 2x

 

Toots and the Maytals

 

Alanis Morrisette

 

Lloyd Cole – Perhaps you’ve never heard of him. If not, you should learn more. I did a blog post on him, here. I can’t believe I was able to see him live in a small Jacksonville bar, just a few feet from him. An incredible show!

 

Wiggles – Umm… parents will know who they are.

 

Britt Nicole

 

Third Day – I went from Ministry to Third Day!

 

Meet Lloyd Cole

30 Nov
November 30, 2010

I love music of just about very variety. Occasionally, I hope to use this blog to introduce readers to some of my favorite artists that they may not be aware of, or performances they may enjoy. One of my long time favorites is singer/songwriter LLoyd Cole. Lloyd Cole and the Commotions debuted in 1984 with their album, Rattlesnakes, that reached #13 in the UK on the strength of the singles “Perfect Skin”, “Forest Fire” and the title song, “Rattlesnakes”. Over the next five years, they would put out two more albums before breaking up, when Lloyd began pursuing a solo career. 

Lloyd is one of the most talented, intelligent (his songs contain many literary and pop culture references) and stylish performers you’ll ever see, respected tremendously by his industry peers. Like Prince, he is a prodigal guitarist and recorded many of his songs in his home, entirely by himself, playing every instrument. His music is largely alternative pop-rock, with an acoustic/folk sensibility. Unfortunately, judging by his Youtube numbers, which range from just a few hundred to about 15,000 views or so, today’s generation is either disinterested or has yet to discover him. 

I was fortunate to see Lloyd Cole live in a very small bar right here in Jacksonville just a few years back. I considered it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and was able to stand and watch the show with my wife just a few feet from him. It was incredible and believe me when I tell you, I’ve seen a lot of concerts. I’ve posted two clips for you here, both from another one of Lloyd’s concerts back in 1990. These songs (“Jennifer She Said” and “Brand New Friend”), aren’t his most recognizable hits, but some of his greatest, nonetheless. Ignore the cheesy stage lighting and just pay attention to the music. Better yet, ignore the video and just turn up the music. 

If you’d like to sample more of Lloyd Cole’s music, know that his are the types of albums that can be listened to straight through with great enjoyment of every track (they are first-rate ambiance for house parties and road trips- your friends will want to know who’s playing.).That said, this Greatest Hits album is an excellent place to start and can be had for just $7.99 on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/lloyd-cole-commotions-1984/id14321168

While his history is long, rest assured that Lloyd is still cool, still relevant and incredibly, still underrated and undiscovered.

The Creative Process of Coldplay: Take Notes

24 Nov
November 24, 2010

The Creative Process of Coldplay: Take Notes

These are Chris Martin’s notes to himself and his bandmates, one of many such items posted on the walls, a whiteboard and even Martin’s studio piano (he scribbles on it in green marker).

More precisely, these are reminders of key principles which have helped Coldplay become astoundingly successful- a “secret formula” if you will, of philosophical beliefs and strategic tactics that the band employs consistently, covering everything from song construction; to photo / video guidelines; to marketing and public relations positioning; and general business.
In the interview, news journalist, Steve Kroft, framed Martin’s practice as somehow aberrant, stating: “He is a compulsive worrier and list-maker. He sends himself electronic messages, and scrawls notes on scraps of paper, on his hands, and anything else that’s available, lest he forget some brilliant idea. Like many artists, he is openly, gloriously neurotic.”“Neurotic?”I call it pure business acumen- (beautifully) equal parts creative and analytical.

How many new ideas or profound realizations arrive for many of us at unexpected moments? Insights that you just can’t afford to forget? What do you do? Grab a pencil and jot ‘em down, of course! Most designers I know keep idea/sketch books handy and I’ve got plenty of notebooks and post-it notes full of marketing, design, business and leadership lessons that I’ve either come to realize myself, or have picked up from others much wiser than me.

“The most powerful element in advertising is the truth”…

“Always have a point of view”…
“Make an emotional connection”…
“Don’t be afraid that a concept will go over your customers heads. If you assume they’re dumb, they may be smarter than you”…
“Safe is risky”…
“Advertising can’t create product advantages, only convey them”…

And so on.I keep them where I can always be consciously reminded of their powerful truths. If you happen to be the kind of person who instinctively organizes your standards and observations into digital files- congratulations! If you prefer a bulletin board, whiteboard or post-it’s, I can relate. If you use a green sharpie on your white grand piano, then ummm… well, o.k…. maybe Martin is a little bit more obsessive than most.But, based upon what I can clearly see in Chris’ notes, he is a man that is more calculating than confused; more cognitive than compulsive; more analytical than anxious. I see someone who is introspective and intelligent, and not inappropriately impulsive. Creatives, take note.

The “Mysteries” of Coldplay, revealed:

1. Albums must be no longer than 42 minutes, or 9 tracks.

2. Production must be amazing, rich, but with space, not overlayered, less tracks, more quality, groove and swing. Drums/rhythm are the most crucial thing to    concentrate on; difference between “Bittersweet” and “Science of silence.” (A reference to The Verve and Richard Ashcroft solo)

3. Computers are instruments, not recording aids.
4. Imagery must be classic, colourful and different. Come back in glorious technicolor.
5. Make sure videos and pictures are great before setting release date. And highly original.
6. Always keep mystery. Not many interviews.
7. Groove and swing. Rhythms and sounds must always sound as original as possible. Once Jon has melody, twist it and weird it.
8. Promo/review copies to be on vinyl. Stops copying problem, sounds and looks better.
9. Jacqueline Sabriado, ns p c c, face forward/review. (Not sure what this references)
10. Think about what to do with charity account. Set up something small, enabling and constructive. Ref J. Oliver Fifteen (a reference to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Restaurant in London)
The Creative Process of Coldplay: Take Notes

Dave Grohl “Band on the Run”

23 Nov
November 23, 2010

Last night I was channel-surfing and came across a teriffic PBS special- a White House tribute to Sir Paul McCartney (actually a repeat from earlier this summer). President Obama was presenting the former Beatle with the prestigious Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The event was quite formal, with a restrained air of dignity and sophistication and a few sublime performances from such entertainers as Elvis Costello and Emmylou Harris, who all sang covers of various Beatles / McCartney songs. One really special performance was “Band on the Run” by Dave Grohl, former drummer for Nirvana and current guitarist and frontman for the Foo Fighters. What I loved so much about it was that, well– he rocked his arse off, just like he always does! Never mind that President Obama was a few feet away, along with a stiff mix of seniors, suits and politicians that had likely paid thousands of dollars for tickets. Grohl blew the doors off the song like he was playing Lollapalloza, or an LA bar or something. Killer riffs. Hair flying. Ears ringing. It was great, and you could tell that McCartney and everyone else really dug it. I know I did. It was also a great reminder of what a versatile performer Grohl is and what a really talented songwriter McCartney is. Here’s the vid. Enjoy!

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