The Changes Within

Listening to music used to require dedication and effort. Every 20 or 30 minutes you had to get up, pull the LP off of the turntable, flip, replace, and set the needle into the starter groove again. You had to maintain your records carefully or risk a scratched or skipping album, making it useless. There were also many advantages to vinyl, including far better sound quality than even CD. Before you stomp your feet up and down over that consider that most people listen to music on systems that so poorly recreate the recorded music they play as to alter it completely. On a good system vinyl is more dynamic, more alive, spacious, and closer to being there than CD, MP3, 16 – 42 FLAC, SACD, and DVD-A.

rp I have argued the wonders of vinyl before so I will move to the meat of this article. Digital files have all but removed my ability to listen to a complete album. I know that albums are not always thought of as single works of art in the digital age, which is a shame but even when I listen to older music now I spend more time picking through my collection song by song than I spend actually listening. Unless I am doing a review I either use Turntable.fm or use an automated playlist. I have lost the ability to listen to a full album simply for enjoyment.

We live in a one off world where information and entertainment come in bite size chunks. At the same time virtually everything in our lives is being created to the lowest common quality factor you can get away with in court. This has changed how music is written, recorded, mastered, sold, played, collected… everything has changed.

I am making a point to listen to more full albums for pleasure, just kick back and enjoy. What is the last full album you listened to in a single sitting outside of your car?

 

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The Infamous Stagger Lee to Receive Headstone

The Killer Blues Headstone Project is pleased to announce their first headstone recipients of 2013. St. Louis blues pioneer Milton “Lindberg” Sparks and folklore legend “Stagger” Lee Shelton will be honored with markers this spring.

staggerleeMilton Sparks’ substantial and noteworthy contribution to blues music often goes unrecognized. Along with his twin brother Aaron, the Sparks Brothers were the first artists to record popular lines such as “61 Highway – longest highway that I know”, and “Every day I have the blues”. The brothers were also one of the first, if not the first, to record the foundation for what we know as “Dust My Broom”.  They recorded twenty four sides between 1932-1935 for labels such as Bluebird, Victor, and Decca.

Any blues enthusiast knows the story of cruel old “Stagger Lee” who shot Billy Lyons during an argument over a Stetson hat.  The song has been recorded well over 400 times in a plethora of variations and styling. Although “Stagger” Lee Shelton was not a musician, the events that transpired on that fateful Christmas Eve in 1895 made a significant historical impact on American music.

The public ceremony will take place on April 14 at 2pm at the historic Greenwood Cemetery in Hillsdale, MO. Due to overgrowth the exact locations of the burial spots of both Sparks and Shelton are unreachable. Therefore, the Killer Blues Headstone Project has partnered with the nonprofit Friends of Greenwood to create a memorial garden near the cemetery’s entrance where the headstones will be placed. For information regarding the ceremony contact Aaron Pritchard at 314.775.6953 or aaronpritchard.killerblues@yahoo.com. To learn more about the Killer Blues Headstone Project’s past or future endeavors please visit www.killerblues.net.

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Third Coast Kings Invade

Put on some grinding, driving, screaming funk and you will see me transform into a different person.  I listen to most music with an analytical ear, immersing myself in the nuances of the recording, the lyrics, the solos, the meaning. No matter how many times I attempt to listen to funk this way I fail. Funk makes me move, it takes over my body like an ex with a voodoo doll. I lose all control.

thirdcoastkingsFunk isn’t there to be dissected, it is meant to get you horizontal as soon as its hypnotic powers let you step off the dance floor. There is no other form of music that throbs, swells, and drives the ways funk can. We are fortunate that funk is seeing a bit of rejuvenation. Thanks to my very good TurnTable.fm pal McBoozo, who resides in the funk friendly, classic rock room Ya Dig!, I am now a huge fan of Ann Arbor funktastic band Third Coast Kings. I just finished their self titled album and I love it.

Under normal circumstances I would follow my usual format and discuss the stand out songs, the flow of the album, ya know the reviewer stuff. The only thing I can say in this regard is that every song is funkalicious, equally so and from beginning to end you are simply there for one awesome ride.

We need more bands like Third Coast Kings and The Bamboos, an Australian group with a tad stronger soul lean than Third Coast Kings. I get excited when I hear what these bands are doing, how they are taking my beloved funk into the future. On top of all this, they have a vinyl release and that puts me terribly close to euphoric.

I won’t keep you any longer, you should be downloading Third Coast Kings album right now and for the rest of your life, when you get the urge to be lifted from your safe place and let someone else take control of your body, you will drop the needle here and prepare to get horizontal.

Who are the funk bands that could make you write a paragraph length sentence?

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