On New Year’s Eve Day, Leroy kicked off the Northeast tour here in NYC. Rico, his lap steel player since the early days, was not on this jaunt so I got to jump in the rental car and see what it’s like to be on the road for four shows. He’s known by many names and projects—Hellbound Glory, The eXcavators, Leon Virgil Bowers, and Leroy Virgil. I’ve created a Smart Playlist in iTunes to encompass all his work. Having listened to little else since Thanksgiving, I was ready to kick off 2016 with the chance to see things from his side of the stage.
A few months ago I bought my first flatscreen tv. I cancelled the cable subscription, upped the internet juice, and switched to Roku. I cannot recommend it enough. There are bazillions of free channels, and one that I pay a small monthly fee for: The Roots Channel which is the epicenter of music performances, documentaries, lessons, and culture. For pop music videos, there is a great channel called Vevo. I’m catching up on what people are into and it’s fantastic. I am Taylor Swift’s newest fan. Her videos are gorgeous; her music is fun. There are so many great videos with dancing in them, like the new Sia, and it makes me want more dance in our genre.
Director Todd Tue must have been thinking the same thing. His love of color and contrast and dance present this song as it feels, and it’s beautiful. Music, art, dancing, and children are a recipe for my nomination for Video of the Year 2015 (and it’s only January!).
In the best beginning of a year I could hope for, I got to watch the artists’ process for a week. Hellbound Glory played a bunch of shows booked near here, and I was happy to host them. I attended two performances and heard Leroy singing this and that off and on. Heaven.
In tune with the weather, we saw a super storm of fantastic music in 2013. We’re going to be listening to these albums for years to come. I can’t bring myself to put these in order because they mean so many things; they’re not meant to be ranked.
My first listen of There Will be Nights When I’m Lonely, I put on the good headphones, turned up the volume, and closed my eyes. Seconds into Hurricane I was in 110%. That’s his power. He’s our Shaman.
Konrad Wert is a teacher/father/singer/songwriter from Austin, Texas. His achievements include Teacher of the Year, an Independent Music Award for his songwriting, and devotion of fans all over. He is a music aficionado. It’s the sound, the rhythm, the texture. He’s aware of all that surrounds him and weaves it into the human condition.
Another stellar Muddy Roots experience to recover from. Though I missed many who could not make it, the joy and magic is still there. Things could not have happened better. I spent the experience with close friends whom I’ve known for decades and ones I only see here. The serendipitous events of the weekend made it another amazing ride.
A mere week after the magic of Muddy Roots 2013 (I’m still processing), Hellbound Glory full band plays one of my favorite venues, The Bell House (also home to my Secret Science Club) and he sang my favorite song, Showing Off Sure is Fun, that he was creating last time they played here. From him snapping his fingers in my kitchen, to a full band with a stadium riff sent me sailing. I wish I could have experienced it large scale. Seeing it at Muddy Roots is a close second.
Lone Wolf OMB is a force of nature that is somehow captured and communicated through music. Last year, Don Maddox watched his set at Muddy Roots and told him he’s got the best timing he’s ever heard. It’s true. What he does can’t be done. And on top of that the guy has riffs that just send you spinning. I’ve had this on repeat for weeks and I heartily recommend it.
Above is an album cover youtube I made of the song “The Masked Marvel” which is my current favorite. “Mama’s Boy” holds steady as the sweetest and “Baby, Don’t Hold Back” is another gem.
I love hip-hop in the summer. It’s hard not to break out into a groove to Blurred Lines. (Yes, I’m aware it’s pop, but it’s a who-cares-cause-it’s-GOOD song.) I’m reading ?uestlove’s book, “Mo Meta Blues” and it’s a joy to watch the trajectory of The Roots of music from his point-of-view. I’m finally beginning to understand Kanye’s new album, Yeezus, and it’s worth it. Plus, Jay-Z is knocking one out of the stratosphere once again with “Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film” It pretty much sums up why I’m an art nerd. Early in hip-hop art, music, and dance were the trifecta that formed the lifestyle. Jay-Z was there for that and our tastes in art grew parallel. People say that art and hip-hop grew apart when art went all shi shi poo poo money and shut the door in hip-hop’s face. I disagree. Hip-hop grew just as greedy and bling hungry and closed the door on art’s face. As in most in-genre drama, both parties have egg on their face.
Jay-Z is king of the world right now and in the Biggie style of doing things, he brought Brooklyn with him. So if this new video that’s labeled a performance piece (which you would have had to be in that room for) educates the who’s who of whoville in creativity, I’m happy.