Music Blog

Music of the Sahara

Ali Farka Toure

I've been recently enjoying the "desert blues" of Saharan Africa.  When you think about the harsh climate and political history that peoples of this region have faced, it seems only natural that powerful and soulful music would emerge similarly to American blues.

This music combines guitars with traditional African instruments such as flutes and harps and finds structure around percussive rhythms that stay with you long after you shut off the stereo.  Although you probably won't understand a word of the lyrics, you get the strange sense that you know what they're singing about purely through their emotive tones.

Colorado MahlerFest is NOW!

book cover The Mahler Symphonies

The 24th annual Colorado MahlerFest is happening now in Boulder through May 22 with performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 5 at Macky Auditorium on Saturday and Sunday.

My good friend Al wrote: "Conductor Herbert von Karajan said that when one hears Mahler's Fifth, 'you forget that time has passed. A great performance of the Fifth is a transforming experience. The fantastic finale almost forces you to hold your breath.' " As an amateur musician, I can say from my personal experience, that this was true for me. The Littleton Symphony Orchestra, of which I am a member, just recently performed this gargantuan symphony with 5 movements.

Rainy Day Music

Norah Jones

Do you get the blues when it's cold and overcast for days on end? I certainly do, so I was thrilled to find just the fix for it during our recent cold spell. What's your favorite music to listen to when spring seems like winter all over again?
 

Norah Jones' 2007 album Not Too Late is like a big mug of tea in a cozy coffee shop, only it's magically portable.

Avoiding the Sophomore Slump?

Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues

It must be a daunting prospect. Your debut album exceeds all expectations of acclaim and now you're faced with trying to follow it up? Can you avoid the "sophomore slump" that plagues so many bands who find themselves in this situation. A batch of young artists are now releasing their second efforts with thick anticipation from the music world.

Here are some notable ones:

Austin's 4th Annual PsychFest April 29-May1!

Austin PsychFest 4

Do you have a car and nothing to do this weekend? Drive on down to Texas for the Austin PsychFest and get your reverb on.

Sure South By Southwest gets all the press, but Austin PsychFest is leading the charge in all things loud, fuzzy and experimental.

R.I.P. Gerard Smith

Gerard Smith

Gerard Smith, bassist for the Brooklyn based art-rock band TV on the Radio, passed away April 20, 2011.

Smith was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly after finishing the band's latest album "Nine Types of Light." As a result, TV on the Radio has canceled several shows on their tour including Denver, where they were slated to play Tuesday April 26th at the Ogden Theater.

Rodrigo y Gabriela

RyG playing in Paris in November 2010

There's a reason why Rodrigo y Gabriela's upcoming concert in Boulder is sold out—the Latin acoustic guitar duo is getting too big for little venues. Their powerful songs defy accurate comparison and genre. Out of Mexico and residing in Dublin, Ireland, this group's rhythms will make you wish they were local.

From adventurous originals like Tamacun to an all-acoustic guitar version of Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven, truly each and every song is musically impressive and interesting. The band has said that though your ears might hear flamenco, that's not what it is. More specifically, they blend "Latin harmonies and rhythms but the structure is rock," according to their bio on Jambase (a great band profile website). Their influences include salsa, classic rock, and Mexican metal.

Poet as Musician

Many musicians write lyrics, while some write pure poetry.

Celebrate National Poetry Month with a little music, try some of these poet/musicians on for size.

Leonard Cohen

Bob Dylan

Tori Amos

Bob Marley

Mos Def

Cover Me

Jeff Buckley's Grace

Is there any cover song that is better than the original?

My husband and I were discussing cover songs the other day and the conversation got me thinking. I used to be adamant that no cover song is better than the original until I realized that I couldn't argue my point because one of my favorite songs of all time is a cover! This brought to mind several other examples of cover songs that I actually prefer over the original. So I guess I have to eat my words a bit (just don't tell my husband!).

Here's my "better than the original" list. I'm curious to see what your list would include.

Country Side of Life

Academy of Country Music Awards

You don't have to be a fan or regular listener of country music to enjoy a good awards show. The 46th Annual Academy of Country Music (ACM) awards will be televised live on Sunday, April 3.

Two of my favorite ACM catagories for the 2011 awards are entertainer of the year and album of the year. Like most protagonists in a country music song, I am looking for a change and hope the academy gives a nod to Aldean or Lambert for entertainer of the year.

If you need a refresher on a performer's talents, listen to one of the CDs by a nominated artist:

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