Tag: soul

True Loves is a rising Seattle-based instrumental soul outfit that can trace its origins to a jam session back in 2014 between three of the city’s best players — David McGraw (drums), Bryant Moore (bass) and Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio‘s Jimmy James (guitar). Since then, the band has expanded into a globalized unit with the addition of Iván Galvez (percussionist), Odesza‘s, Monophonics‘ and Polyrhythmics Jason Cressey (trombone), Mackelmore‘s Greg Kramer (trombone), Gordon Brown (sax) and the acclaimed Skerik (sax). The band has developed a reputation as a must-see live act locally — and they’ve amassed millions of streams on YouTube.

The act’s full-length debut, 2017’s Famous Last Words received praise locally and as a result, the act landed sets at a number of regional festivals including Sasquatch, Doe Bay and Upstream. The members of the Seattle-based act followed the release of their full-length debut, with a handful of singles including 2018’s “Dapper Derp”/”Kabuki” 45RPM single and 2019’s “Famous Last Words”/”Mary Pop Poppins” 45RPM single.

The Seattle-based group’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Sunday Afternoon is a sort of soundtrack for a Sunday afternoon block party that brings the entire neighborhood out. Co-written by Greg Kramer and Bryant Moore with the intention of writing classic using just four chords, Sunday Afternoon‘s fourth and latest single “Yard Byrds” is a slow-burning G funk-like pimp strut, centered around a regal horn melody, a sinuous bass line, shimmering guitars, fluttering flute and a steady yet propulsive beat. Every time I’ve played this song, I’ve closed my eyes and pictured myself strutting and flossing down the street, as you head to the block party or the swap meet.

New Video: Robert Finley’s Strutting and Soulful “Country Boy”

67 year-old, Winnsboro, LA-born, Bernice, LA-based singer/songwriter Robert Finley was born into a family of sharecroppers, and was one of eight children. As a child, a young Finley was unable to regularly attend school and often worked with his family in the cotton fields. When he was a teenager, he attended a segregated school, but dropped out in the 10th grade to help financially support his family and himself.

Finley is an army veteran and was a skilled carpenter, who has lived a full, complicated and often messy life: he’s survived house fires, a bad auto accident and a divorce. Sadly, Finley lost his sight in his 60s as a result of glaucoma, and although he was forced to retire, the Winnsboro-born, Bernice-based singer/songwriter realized that he had an opportunity to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a musician. Finley believes that his sight was improved by the power of prayer and his faith has also helped him focus on launching a music career in his 60s. According to Finley “losing my sight, gave me the perspective to see my true identity.”

Robert Finley’s rise has been rapid: As the story goes, Dan Auerbach immediately saw Finley’s potential, quickly proclaiming that the Louisiana-born and-based artist is “the greatest living soul singer.” He walked in like he was straight out of the swamp.” Auerbach recalls in press notes, adding, “He had leather pants, snakeskin boots, a big Country & Western belt buckle, a leather cowboy hat and a three-quarter-length leather duster. The final touch was the folding cane the legally blind Finley wore on his hip, in a holster. Basically, he was dressed for national television.” 

Auerbach went on to produce Finley’s 2017 breakthrough sophomore album Goin’ Platinum, an album released to widespread critical acclaim from the likes of the Associated Press, who praised Finley’s ability to lend “instant credibility to any song” and The Observer, who wrote “Finley’s versatile voice ranges from prime Motown holler to heartbroken falsetto croon.” The Louisiana-born and-based singer/songwriter went on to support the album with tours of 10 countries — with his live show drawing praise from a number of publications, including The New York Times and several others. Finley was also profiled on PBS NewsHour, which led him to becoming a contestant on the 2019 season of America’s Got Talent, eventually reaching the semi-finals.

Finley’s third album Sharecropper’s Son is slated for a May 21, 2021 release through Easy Eye Sound. The album, continues the Louisiana-born and-based singer/songwriter’s successful collaboration with Auerbach and features songwriting from Finley, Auerbach, Bobby Wood and Pat McLaughlin and an an All-Star backing band that includes Auerbach (guitar); Kenny Brown (guitar), a member of R.L Burnside’s backing band; studio legends Russ Pahl (pedal steel) and Louisiana-born, Nashville-based Billy Sanford (guitar); Bobby Wood (keys and as previously mentioned songwriting); Gene Chrisman (drums), who’s a Memphis and Nashville music legend; as well as contributions The Dap Kings’ Nick Movshon (bass), Eric Deaton (guitar); Dave Roe (bass), who was member of Johnny Cash’s backing band; Sam Bacco (percussion) and a full horn section.

Sharecropper’s Son may arguably be the most personal album of Finley’s growing catalog, drawing directly from his life and experience. “I was ready to tell my story, and Dan and his guys knew me so well by then that they knew it almost like I do, so they had my back all the way,” Finley says in press notes. “Working in the cotton fields wasn’t a pleasant place to be, but it was part of my life. I went from the cotton fields to Beverly Hills. We stayed in the neighborhood most of our childhood. It wasn’t really all that safe to be out by yourself. One of the things I love about music is that, when I was a boy growing up in the South, nobody wanted to hear what I had to say or what I thought about anything. But when I started putting it in songs, people listened.”

The album’s latest single “Country Boy” is a swampy and funky bit of country soul, centered around a tight, strutting groove, bluesy guitar licks, shimmering organ and Finley’s soulful and creaky falsetto. The song’s autobiographical lyrics were improvised on the spot with the tape rolling and the band setting up the song’s sultry groove. “When we play live, I always leave room in the show for lyrics I make up on the spot while the band hits a groove,” Finley explains. “I guess the younger generation calls it free-styling, but for me, it’s just speaking from my mind, straight from my soul.” While the lyrics hit upon classic blues fare such as heartbreak, loneliness, being broke, being a stranger far away from home and so on, the song is informed by lived-in personal experience: Finely has been that poor, country boy, moving far from home and busting his ass to make a better life for himself — to be broke, lonely and desperate, and longing for his beloved home. For me, the end result is a song that aims to be timeless in its sound, feel and themes and manages to hit every single mark with a heartfelt sincerity.

Directed by Tim Hardman, the recently released video for “Country Boy” was filmed in Finely’s birthplace of WInnsboro, where his family worked and lived as sharecroppers in the Jim Crow era South. While featuring an incredibly dapper and badass Finley strutting and dancing to the song and playing in a small, divey blues joint, the visual is also a gorgeously shot slice of daily life in America’s small towns.

Throwback: Happy 77th Birthday, Diana Ross!

This week is a rather auspicious week in music history: Yesterday Elton John and Aretha Franklin shared a birthday. And today, the legendary Diana Ross turns 77, I firmly believe that we should celebrate our legends while we have them — and Diana Ross is one of the most influential and important out of the entire Motown Records universe.

So I thought the best to celebrate her birthday would be to post some throwback live footage of Ms. Ross doing her thing.

New Video: London’s Mariachi Las Adelitas Cover Amy Winehouse

Rising London-based septet Mariachi Las Adelitas is Europe’s first all-female mariachi band. Founded in 2013 by bandleader Anna Csergo (a.k.a Anita Adelita), the act, which features a collection of exceptionally talented musicians and vocalists from Mexico, Cuba, Colombia and the UK, actively shatters stereotypes in an extremely male-orientated genre. Their repertoire includes the mariachi classics, as well as mariachi-styled arrangements of well-known and beloved classics in English.

In their almost decade-long history, the septet has established themselves as a highly in-demand live act. They’ve opened for Arcade Fire at London’s Earl Court. They’ve shared a stage with the two-time Grammy Award winning Mariachi Divas at International Mariachi Women’s Festival, where they received a standing ovation. They’ve also played the Victoria & Albert Museum and at The Roundhouse. And they’ve serenaded Selma Hayek on her birthday.

Late last year, I wrote about the septet’s debut single “El Toro Relajo.” Featuring a new arrangement by the band’s founder and recorded during pandemic-related lockdowns, the gorgeous Mariachi Las Adelitas rendition revealed a self-assured and super talented band that can really play– and a vocalist, who belts like a young Linda Rondstadt. The London-based septet’s latest single finds them crafting a loving Huapango mariachi arrangement of Amy Winehouse‘s classic, heartbreaking ballad “Back to Black.” Both versions are gorgeous –but interestingly enough, the mariachi rendition somehow manages to enhance the bitter heartbreak at the song’s core.

“Writing this arrangement was a delicate and controversial issue for Mariachi Las Adelitas,” bandleader and producer Anna Csergo explains in press notes. “Mariachi is a complex traditional art form that we want to preserve, revive and bring out into the wider world. Arranging a popular song from our hometown of London had to be done with the utmost respect and authenticity for the style. We decided that if we were going to cover a non-mariachi song we would arrange it in true mariachi style.

“Of course we also wanted to do justice to the writer herself, not make a bad copy of already great music.”

Much like its immediate predecessor, the song was recorded and produced remotely as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions. The recently released video was also shot and edited in a similar DIY fashion, so we see the individual band members performing — in full mariachi regalia — in their backyards, their home studios or their dens. The video is a reminder that for contemporary artists everywhere if there’s a will, there’s a way.

Rising London-based septet Mariachi Las Adelitas is Europe’s first all-female mariachi band. Founded in 2013 by bandleader Anna Csergo (a.k.a Anita Adelita), the act, which features a collection of exceptionally talented musicians and vocalists from Mexico, Cuba, Colombia and the UK, actively shatters stereotypes in an extremely male-orientated genre. Their repertoire includes the mariachi classics, as well as mariachi-styled arrangements of well-known and beloved classics in English. 

In their almost decade-long history, the septet has established themselves as a highly in-demand live act. They’ve opened for Arcade Fire at London’s Earl Court. They’ve shared a stage with the two-time Grammy Award winning Mariachi Divas at  International Mariachi Women’s Festival, where they received a standing ovation. They’ve also played the Victoria & Albert Museum and at The Roundhouse. And they’ve serenaded Selma Hayek on her birthday.

Late last year, I wrote about the septet’s debut single “El Toro Relajo.” Featuring a new arrangement by the band’s founder and recorded during pandemic-related lockdowns, the gorgeous Mariachi Las Adelitas rendition revealed a self-assured and super talented band that can really play– and a vocalist, who belts like a young Linda Rondstadt. The London-based septet’s latest single finds them crafting a loving Huapango mariachi arrangement of Amy Winehouse‘s classic, heartbreaking ballad “Back to Black.” Both versions are gorgeous –but interestingly enough, the mariachi rendition somehow manages to enhance the bitter heartbreak at the song’s core.

Throwback: Black History Month: Sly and The Family Stone

Today is February 20, 2021. It’s the 20th day of Black History Month. And as I’ve mentioned throughout this series, I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles — with the hopes that it’ll be a bit of a primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

Of course, I hope that these posts will serve as a reminder of these very important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

After coming across an Instagram post that mentioned Woodstock, I immediately thought of the 1970 documentary film on the legendary three-day music festival, appropriately named after the festival. Out of many highlights, my mind’s eye turned to Sly and The Family Stone, whose performance in the film is electrifying — and electrifying in a way that brings Otis Redding at Monterrey Pop Festival and James Brown on T.A.M.I. Show to mind.

The live footage above should remind you of a few things:

Sly and The Family Stone are a vision of the future: the band featured men and women, Black people and white people and anyone else, who could sing and play — having fun and just accepting everyone else for being themselves. We should be working towards that world right now!
There was maybe a 5-7 year period where Sly and The Family Stone may have been one of the best bands in the entire world.

Throwback: Black History Month: Barry White

Time does what it usually does: it flies by faster than what you’d expect or even want.Today is February 14. It’s Valentine’s Day and the 14th day of Black History Month. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been proudly featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles with the hopes that these artists can guide you towards further understanding of the Black experience.

As the month goes on, I hope that you’ll be reminded of these urgently important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

So because it’s Valentine’s Day, I felt it was necessary to feature yet another patron saint of love, the legendary Barry White, one of the kings of Quiet Storm R&B.

Throwback: Black History Month: Teddy Pendergrass

Time does what it usually does: it flies by faster than what you’d expect or even want.Today is February 14. It’s Valentine’s Day and the 14th day of Black History Month. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been proudly featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles with the hopes that these artists can guide you towards further understanding of the Black experience.

As the month goes on, I hope that you’ll be reminded of these urgently important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

So because it’s Valentine’s Day, I felt it was necessary to feature yet another patron saint of love, the legendary Teddy Pendergrass, one of the kings of Quiet Storm R&B.

Throwback: Black History Month: Al Green

Time does what it usually does: it flies by faster than what you’d expect or even want.Today is February 14. It’s Valentine’s Day and the 14th day of Black History Month. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been proudly featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles with the hopes that these artists can guide you towards further understanding of the Black experience.

As the month goes on, I hope that you’ll be reminded of these urgently important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

So because it’s Valentine’s Day, I felt it was necessary to feature one of music’s patron saints of love and of heartache, the Rev. Al Green.

If you haven’t seen it before, check out the footage of Al Green on Soul Train in 1974. It’s one of the most transcendent and uplifting TV performances I’ve ever seen.