A Real “Rochelle, Rochelle” Musical!

“Imagine what you’d get when you marinate a down-to-earth, fine cut of talent with a sprinkle of Dolly Parton, a smidgen of Maureen McGovern, a dash of Stevie Nix, and a teaspoon of Cher…”

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Richmond, Virginia, April 21, 2019 – One of the great things about traveling the Airbnb way is that you meet some very interesting people, on an almost neighborly and intimate level, in a short period of time! I have gotten to cook in some very well-stocked kitchens and love to taste and cook gourmet dishes to chow on with a smorgasbord of sound in the background.  Check out my latest, recipe:

Imagine now, what you’d get when you marinate a down-to-earth, fine cut of talent with a sprinkle of Dolly Parton, a smidgen of Maureen McGovern, a dash of Stevie Nix, and a teaspoon of Cher?  Mix all into a bowl with her lead-guitar husband “Boz”, funky horns (including a baritone sax), Hammon organ and solid percussion.  Don’t let it simmer too long before firing it up, and you get medium-well done and tasty to your ears, the rangy Rochelle Harper (and her Mississippi band) jammin’!

She told me her music is “Americana” and while defined as contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues and also often uses a full electric band, to debate categorization is a whole other post.  I’ll highlight the tunes that swooned me on recent road trips, transcending mere categorization.  If you must narrow, I’d play several of the songs on my Contemporary Hits, Top 40 and jammin’ music radio stations!

Her 2014 solo effort, “Lilt” is in a class by itself, while her band showcases and performs under a more funky, free-form umbrella.  The first song from “Lilt” is a mid-tempo rocker called “Bittersweet”. Its soulfully fulfilling because the lyrics are realistic and hook repeated often,  “You’re the thing I shouldn’t do, but I know I wanna do anyway…”  Next is “Stars Out” which brings Fleetwood Mac to my DJ mind. They could have changed the ending to a vamp-to-fade and gone on longer, IMO.  I kept hitting ‘repeat’, trying to keep the feeling!!!

 

At this point,  I am needing to reach for a lyric sheet because, like most great crooners, we mortals cannot always understand the heartfelt words!  One of those occasions where, sometime in the future, you hear a cut and suddenly understand what they were singing all along!  Rochelle rear

The disc settles-down after that, into “Cajun Wind” and “Say”, two tracks that let her explore forks in her vocal road that may be more in-tune with that “Americana” thing; she sounds like Cher here, for the first time on my drive (she will again on “Angelina”), and I am just crossing the South-to-North Carolina border on I-95!

Suddenly, there I sat, while the road was closed for a still inexplicable reason – I-95 used to never come to a standstill as I remember it – I shut the music off, in frustration while we sat still for at least sixty minutes. There went my ETA of the day.

When we began to move fast again, Rochelle helped me find my favorite and a-pro-po jam, “Highway One”!  Becoming a tune-wedgie, I’ve played it again and again.  The guitar solo sounds a bit like that of Redbone on the classic 1971 song, “Maggie” and its brass from the outset gave my trip momentum like the legendary Memphis Horns section. Rochelle also covers Bobby Gentry’s “Ode To Billy Joe” on this album.  I’d had enuff of that one growing up, but it might be insightful for a younger audience to listen to.  On “Comin’ Home Again” we are happily greeted by Randall Bramblett’s Hammond B3, and throughout this poppin’ buster, his presence is prevalent like pew prayer in church.

Finally, Rochelle’s signature message song, I suspect, after having talked to her a few times at our AIRbnb Inn, is the reggae-rocker, “Universal Love” whose lyrics – and she wrote eight of the eleven songs – identify her as a strong “Rasta” goddess voice in a body of a natural Gulf Coast girl. Major props to Blair Shotts, whose solid drumming caught my ears, as a once-upon-a-time drummer.  He does Motown accents really well!

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When she first introduced herself to me I thought of Seinfeld’s “Rochelle Rochelle!”  With wishes to hear newer success and happier for having met this couple, my rating is  four-out-of-five, “Peace Within Music” signs, (like Rochelle’s Hippie pants) peace-sign-1066713_960_720!

** Next post,  I will revu the separate Band album, Mississippi Hippie Blues.

This video is a sneak-preview:

 

**Sureshot: Please remember to check out my other Rochelle-related review and other topics at the Mothership blog, achilliad.wordpress.com

There’s No Waning Mark on Glasmire, Thru My Eyes (and ears) 

[Nashville, Tennessee, December, 2018] Proving that you can put a new slant on tried and true formats, is listening to the new album by Mark Wayne Glasmire [Traceway Records MWGCD 2018-1] who “Can’t Be Denied” stardom.  Take out your neatly included little lyric booklet, so you can follow along with me…

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From the first snare drum accents of “I’ve Got A Feeling”, this album captivates you into the professionally gleaned clean sound of “MWG”.   Hark! I think I even hear a friendly banjo pluckin-away and soulful, groovin’ organ on that first track! Yes! Checkin’ one of the SoMuchMooreMedia press advances, I read that we are hearing wonderful Wanda Vick on banjo, fiddle and mandolin (I so wanna see her, upon hearing this!) and Dennis Wage on the Hammond B3. It all comes so-together from start-to-finish on this record musically;  the band is tight.

Next in line, the very relaxing ‘Those Nights”, my first-favorite song here and reminiscent of The Eagles in the the late 1970s/early 1980s of my early Top 40 DJ days on the radio.  It changes the pace of the former by starting with a three-note piano flair, the bluesy, plaintiff organ and then midway through a classic Country music piano/guitar solo interlude. I frown my face up to keep from cryin’ with joy.  The more you listen, the more you’ll love it.

I have a feeling that Mark “Can’t Be Denied” consideration for a CMA award.  This tune continues the feel of the former, flowing naturally next; great song positioning! I love the unique way the guitar’s three note progression becomes the hook!  Tracks four and five play in the same key and “Alysia” is the best of that hook-up. This song is somehow reminiscent of “Spanish Lei”, an instrumental on the late Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra’s “White Gold” album.  Mark sings to and the guitar workings, (“bling, bling,bling…”) reveal her Latino roots. “Hey Alysia, (strum, strum, strum), You’re inside my [musical mind] heart …” It must be the mandolin; all they need is a marimba to complete the south of the border groove!  She also mixed into my head magically, on other songs of the album as I went about my daily chores in recent weeks while working-up this review.

The sixth song, “Borderline”, is a bad-ass story of waking up to a bad day, a card game gone sour and attempted escape, only to cross that final ‘borderline”, that we all must at some point.  Shades of Kenny Rogers on this one and I like that kinda storytellin’.

With so much to describe on this album, I don’t want to leave much out nor bore you because I “Feel Your Love”, as Mark so cleverly works real talk lingo into the lyrical mix. You have to hear how he hides the last word in this (paragraph) to know what I mean,  “I guess that I could walk away and hang it up with dignity and class/But I would rather swing away and tell them all to kiss my…aaaaa-asss!”  I smile out-loud, every time I hear it.

Unfortunately, we all know someone  “Gone Too Soon”  these days.  A a nice fiddle interlude contributes perspective within the complimentary guitars and a Glen Campbell-style feeling throughout.  “This Too Shall Pass” is a sobering ballad towards the end of the album, that addresses earthy, serious topics in all of our lives and its so philosophically introspective that I almost teared-up again, here at the end of a oft-sobering 2018 year. “Sometimes I sit back and wonder/How I made it this far/Nothing to show for the battles I fought/But the pain and the loss and the scars…”  

Honorable mentions to check out are, “Deep Inside” for your traditional uptempo Country music jam-party foot-stomper and “Frying Pan Into the Fire” to hear some of our elders favorite admonitions when we were going up, in-song.  ‘I’ve got a feeling’ that Mark will be heard at the upcoming 2019 CRS in Nashville and wish I could spy it.

This is cool, traveling and radio ready – even in radio’s current configuration – music.  An Adult Contemporary, Americana or Country Music Director would have to be deaf not to add these tunes; yet, use’em sparingly, because the album can last a long time. With a glossy CD cover that spells label commitment, I couldn’t even make notes on it with a sharpie!

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Congratulations, Mark! Major Props on producing music that truly touches all bases and produces potential dreaded “tune wedgies” at every other track. Five-out-of-five Country acoustic guitars is my rating.  5 gold guitars

Thanks for reading, please comment, if you wish and remember to check back to my “mothership connection” blog at www.achilliad.wordpress.com anytime for non-music  opinion.

New Countrytime musikal lemonade revu: Sylvia “Second Bloom – The Hits Re-Imagined”

“I’d never heard of her previously, apparently these songs were originally released three decades ago!  Wow, they are still fresh and relevant.  From the first orchestral notes of the album, “Drifter” paints a story…”

 

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June 8, 2018 saw the reincarnation and rejuvenation of ten tunes by Country/Pop and Adult Contemporary singer, Sylvia, entitled “Second Bloom – The Hits Re-Imagined” [Red Pony Records RPR-1104].  Since that date, she’s been holding court at Country music conventions and hosting radio shows! All grown up now since her early 1980s debuts of these tunes, Sylvia (Hutton) croons often about romantic heartbreak.

I’d never heard of her previously, apparently these songs were originally released three decades ago!  Wow, they are still fresh and relevant.  From the first orchestral notes of the album, “Drifter” paints a story that could be a cowboy plains rider or old USA western-style movie – Pause! “Country & Western” is what people used to call this music! images

The proof is on track three, when she tells her friend, “Tumbleweed”, “you live in a cowboy’s dream…”. Initially sounding like a yodel, that track grew on me!

Slightly sad but not depressing, Sylvia sings about the quirks in romantic relationships from a woman’s perspective; often unrequited with cheatin’ involved like on “Nobody”, a cute play on the word, and often-used tactic by the writers.  I can hear why these were hits – and they still are!

Sylvia’s selections are delivered in typical blunt Country music style,but without the raw edges and always with a lesson. You get ten songs, 70% of which are instant tune wedgies and 60% penned by the duo of Fleming and Morgan.   718oyIXF2kL._SX522_

I dig the fiddle and arrangement on “Fallin’ In Love”!  I like how she handles the boyfriend assuming the posture of “oh she’s just a friend” on “Like Nothing Ever Happened”and the catchy little ditty, “Snapshot”, track eight, which is a different kind of “hold it, say cheese…” as in “caught ya cheatin’!” This version is more mature-sounding that the 1983 original, which had a bubblegum feel to it.  Its “you’re busted, Dude” story-line and playful melody will entrance you instantly! No wonder that the song originally rose to #5 with a bullet from her third album.

“Sweet yesterday” is almost acapella at times and showcases her perfect pitch.  Later, you get a wee taste of easy Caribbean island flavor on “I love You By Heart”.

Professional, crisp and clearly enunciated polished singing, Sylvia is a natural with excellent phrasing like on “Cry Just A Little” which begins with a nice acoustic guitar intro of a few licks. How can we not love this music?

Finally, there once was only one “Sylvia” in my musical life, the late Ms. Robinson, head of Englewood, New Jersey’s R&B label, All Platinum (“Pillowtalk”).  Now, I am happy to add another. Therefore, unequivocally I give this four-out-of-five western boots to “Second Bloom” and you should add it to your collection.   ls

Compare the “blooms” for yourself and watch for any new videos of the re-imagined…

 

and the “Second Bloom” version

Check out her website!  www.SylviaMusic.com  and as always, check in with my mothership www.achilliad.wordpress.com    Thank you and please leave comments.

Southern Halo, the sequel: “Just Like In The Movies”

 

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The sister trio who I wrote about in 2016, Southern Halo [Southern Halo Music] , is back with their sophomore effort, “Just Like In The Movies”.   Sibling in-unison harmonies fall into the southern rock, indie and country pop categories, .

Flying high on stages and in-studio, the trio consists of Natalia {“Nata”) on guitar/lead vocals, Hannah on bass and  “Tinka” who really bangs-out the beat on those drums –She is hard workin‘! (Reminds me of  the late John “Jabo” Starks of the James Brown’s band! lol)

All of the lyrics are interesting, true-to-life and written against the prism of them having grown up in Mississippi, while listening to blues, rock and country stylings, which has translated into an initial regional appeal-gone-slightly international.  This is especially accurate on “Anything Is Possible”, which was the first single released.

For best songs, “Tom Girl” is recommended because of its movin’ tempo; if only it had a fade ending like the only cut which does, “Notice Me”, also a standout. Cold endings mostly leave me…”cold”.

Eldest lead sister, Natalia Morris says of the recording, “the most important thing is that it’s a concept album. All of these songs are like pieces of a puzzle that all fit together”. That concept is their fantasy world, born of a dream that they have a successful and long musical career, which may happen, “Just Like In The Movies” has fourteen songs and there is even a title song to go with their “Southern Halo” theme on track one.

I prefer to listen to a couple of these tunes out of the total context for best enjoyment – otherwise it became a bit trite.

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Personally, their sound is not my cup of tea but I appreciate their family-affair effort, which isn’t always easy in life.  Their sound doesn’t groove with my multi-format disc jockey mind – and I dig a lot of country and blues music – it may be that it is too lovely, and I like “bad” girls. Or maybe this is more the “musical” genre of stage.   Regardless, their “movie” is “G”-rated and I prefer at least a “PG’ or an “R”.  My inner “Siskel and Ebert” likes more drama in its cinema and rates the “movie” with two-and-a-half stars. TWO-AND-A-HALF-rating

Having said that, they will likely be the next number one sensation, lol

 

 

 

[Check out my Mothership blog for book reviews and other commentary/random bachelor diary notes and more at https://achilliad.wordpress.com/  ]

 

“Lets Give Them Something To Talk About…”

“…Bonnie Raitt impresses me as a veteran who knows a thing or two, and who music industry types cannot put “something over” on. ..”

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Out of the blue, or maybe her red hair (now with a white streak!), my jukebox-like mind selected this classic 1992 Bonnie Raitt jam on this cold, winter’s night, to keep me warm. I had to write the title down on a sticky because I knew I wanted to blog it here, as my first Grammy winning recording artist revisit post of 2018.  I like this song! It smacks of keeping things going and controversy.  Maybe I’ve played it during my early Top 40 radio DJ days on an overnight stint or two, but it didn’t phase me as much as it does now.  Music is peculiar like that. Like when suddenly, you recognize the words to a favorite song you’ve heard and mumbled through thousands of times!

A cute redhead in tight blue jeans passed me as I was leaving Publix supermarket this afternoon. Her back was to me, pursuing a shopping cart, when I said softly, “Bonnie Raitt”. She caught it; turned and smiled at me.  Maybe I should have taken it further than just a return smile.  Seems like I’m trying to “get lucky” at Publix these days.  Hmmm.  Maybe I can give them workers there somethin’ to talk about, like a love connection! I digress…

In the video below, you can enjoy this confident and talented woman who crosses musical genres like a New York City pedestrian crosses the street.  I didn’t know that she had a guitar named after her, and is the first female guitarist to have received that honor (Fender)! Major props.

Bonnie Raitt impresses me as a veteran who knows a thing or two, and who music industry types cannot put “something over” on.  She’s got that “look” in her eye.  A rock and Roll Hall of Famer, she also reminds me of my musical acquaintance, Janey Street, who also plays guitar.

I would love to interview her and apply my two score in radio as a DJ to a future review.

 

Check her cool website out! https://www.bonnieraitt.com/

Please add your impressions on Bonnie in “comments”. Happy New Year 2018!

Jeffrey Halford and the healers: Delivering Down-home “Lo-Fi Dreams”

“At the end of the musical day, if I was still a DJ on the radio, this music would be deemed “MOR” (middle of the road) back in the 1970s. Now, I hear it is described as “Americana”? Well…”

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CHARLESTON July 29, 2017 – I have been having a party recently in my car, listening to “Lo-Fi Dreams” performed by Jeffrey Halford and The Healers [Floating Records] on its CD player.

What is this “Lo-Fi” Dream?

Hi-Fi (High Fidelity) was the 1960 predecessor to Stereo and after that came Quadraphonic audio, so does it follow that “Lo-Fi” might be back to the future after Digital?  If so,then what a groovy journey!

What I like first is that every one of the ten tunes are different.

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Track one is “Two Jacksons” and I challenge you to guess what it is about before you listen or I tell you below (don’t peek!). It is a great, very descriptive lead-off song which helps you imagine letting your mind wander while watching this healing live.  No mention of the background singers much to my lament.

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Track two leaves no doubt as to the subject matter. “Elvis Shot the Television” starts with a Jimi Hendrix playing the Star-Spangled Banner-like guitar riff and then goes on to remind of us a legendary Presley incident.   “Good Trouble” is just that and who of us hasn’t had some of it at one time or another?!   I like “10,000 Miles”, as a good behind-the-wheel tune.  Speaking of relationships one way or another throughout, “Bird of Youth” is a song of irreconcilable differences, again, like we all have experienced at one time or another. This is the music of our lifetime.

Track eight has a smooth country pace and could have been named “Refuse” or the “Diner”. Instead they went with the tale told of “Sweet Annette” which features a succulent solo guitar in the middle of this offering whose lyrics make me want to have breakfast any time of the day!  “Great Divide” is geographically separating love music!

At the end of the musical day, this music would be played on “MOR” (middle of the road) format radio back in the 1970s. Now it is described as “Americana” I guess.  I do not care much about labels, except that my research took me to the definition described by ‘The Atlantic’ as, “slang for the comforting, middle-class ephemera at your average antique store — things like needle-pointed pillows, Civil War daguerreotypes, and engraved silverware sets. In the 1990s, radio programmers coined a new, related usage: “Americana” became a nickname for the weather-beaten, rural-sounding music that bands like Whiskeytown and Uncle Tupelo were making. It was warm, twangy stuff, full of finger-plucked guitars and gnarled voices like tires on a dirt road.”  Many lyrics feature uniquely different musical takes on love and unhappiness while others celebrate connections and odd circumstances we All have experienced.

Well, not wanting to undo the diversity of this music review but, my elderly mum has similar “engraved silverware” sets to this very day, so what does this say about her “Lo-Fi Dreams”?

Whether Jeffery knows it or not, he has evolved into an entertaining diversity of sound – much like High Fidelity audio was back before “the day”.

Oh, by the way, “Two Jacksons” is about an article of men’s clothing that cost forty dollars and a flirtation situation. “You wear that jacket and I’m yours tonight! Torn and frayed, in need of repair/she was standing right there…” It should become a single hit.  I love the classic hit musik bar X formula bridge solo.

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Four of five steel guitars is my rating.

 Comments please?  Many Thanks.

The Long-Awaited Rick Monroe EP: “Gypsy Soul”

“From one “Gypsy Soul” to another, there is certainly nothing wrong with that theme nor this diverse set of songs encompassing it…”

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June 20, 2017; Nashville, TN.  My man Rick and the band present six tunes that will linger in your musical mind long after you turn your player off. If you remember, I covered his performance in Ladson, South Carolina at the “Honky Tonk Saloon” last February (I still can’t believe there is really a venue with that name! lol)  This CD sampler dropped last month.  I mentioned to Rick that, since I do not have a CD player in my new apartment, that I could only review it while driving in the car and he said the trips might have to be short because it is an “EP”. you know what?  I took many  pleasurable “short trips” to listen again and again…

Here are the tracks. In reverse order, they are:

The bluesy and soulful with Memphis-like horns, “Rage On”; a Country-rocker, the first one I would play on my ‘Pajama Bar’ radio show, “Moment Like This”; a great title song, “Gypsy Soul”; the mid-tempo with sexy-delicious lyrics, “Ease On Down”; another C-Rocker (rock-her) in “Better” and his romantic smash from the winter of 2017, “This Side of You”.

I dig the many metaphors on “Better”!  “She’s like that first sip of coffee/that first drag on a cigarette…”  Great word-pictures! I once had one whose kiss was “like that first sip of an ice-cold Heineken” lol

Cut four is the title track, “Gypsy Soul” and some of those lyrics could be part of my personal theme song; I really identify with it! No non-rebels need apply.

From one “Gypsy Soul” to another, I believe, as a man who is nomadic as a “gypsy”, if you ask some of my peers who don’t know I know how they feel about me, there is certainly nothing wrong with that theme nor this diverse set of songs encompassing it.  I do want to mention the late, great Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions who sang the R&B hit, “Gypsy Woman” because of the title and lyrical neighborhood point of reference herein.

While Rick Monroe’s core audience is Country music, he surly can cross over into other genres.

This is a five-acoustic guitar EP5 gold guitars!  I rage that you bring on the full album, Rick! Safe travels, Pioneer.  Cheers.

(I’ll update the video when he releases the feature-length scenes, K?)

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Please leave your comments! Thank you.

(be sure to check out the mothership, https://achilliad.wordpress.com)