Thursday, January 27, 2011

Help Kickstart some Art

Nelson George is an amazing artist with his hands in many fields. He's written books (including Hip Hop America and Thriller: The Musical Life of Michael Jackson), been a music columnist (one of the first to break hip hop in print in Billboard and the Amsterdam News), hosted TV programs (VH1's Soul Cities), produces TV shows (BET's American Gangter series), and films (he helped Spike Lee's debut She's Gotta Have It off the ground and has made several of his own).

Now, George is working on a new documentary focusing on the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill areas of Brooklyn, a neighborhood that spawned a flurry of amazing artists spanning many fields (including the before mentioned Spike Lee). He's posted the project on and is looking for some financial help to make it happen. You can donate as little as $1 and as much as $???. Depending on how much you donate, you also get some pretty tantalizing goodies to thank you for your support.The fund raising deadline is in 9 days though, and he's still got $1,000 he needs to raise. Don't waste any time; head over there now and support the arts!

Speaking of Spike Lee, his third feature film Do the Right Thing helped break Public Enemy to America with its inclusion of Fight the Power, where it appeared for the first time. "1989...a number, another summer..."

Public Enemy - Fight the Power : Fear of a Black Planet

Visit Nelson George's website and support his project on

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One More Love

I'm not usually a big fan of top 40 dance club type music, but David Guetta has become a big exception once I checked out his latest, One More Love. It's short and sweet (8 tracks), and contains no filler, just some amazing music that will make your grandmother want to get out on the floor and dance. Watch the hilarious megamix in the above video to get a taste (that is if you're not laughing too hard at Keenan Cahill). And right now, you can get get the digital version for just $3.99 at, although I'm not sure how long that deal will last.

Visit his website, his label Astralwerks, and become his friend on MySpace and Facebook.

Win some Bob Marley HERE!

Remember that new Bob Marley live album that I mentioned last week? Well, guess what! I've got a copy of the 2 CD deluxe release to give away to one MISB lucky reader! That's right, just leave a comment (or email me) with your name and email address and you'll be in the running for a copy of Live Forever: The Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh PA September 23, 1980 [2 CD Deluxe Edition].

In case you didn't see my post last week and don't want to click on that link I included up above, next Tuesday will see the release of a 2 disc live album that features the last recorded show of Bob Marley and the Wailers. To help celebrate, I'll chose one lucky reader to win a copy on the day of its release (sorry, but I can't get it to you that day!) one week from today and notify them via email.

In the meantime, check out this track from an older live album, one released way back in 1975 from a show that same year.

Bob Marley and the Wailers - Trenchtown Rock : Live!

Visit the Bob Marley website, and become his friend (from the other side) on Facebook and MySpace.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jazz Brunch Jam - Tributes

Today I've got a STELLAR performance to share with you from last year that I stumbled upon quite by accident. It's headed up by a jazz musician I first discovered and wrote about a few years ago (damn, time flies), Robert Glasper. At that time, he was just getting ready to put out his inventive concept album Double-Booked, which I enthusiastically gave two thumbs up. What makes this live performance even better is that it's a tribute to another jazz musician, Roy Ayers, who's one of my favorites! Accompanying Glasper is legendary producer/DJ/rapper Pete Rock and up and coming neo-soul singer Bilal. The three of them, along with Glasper's backing band, pull out all the stops for an incredible show that you can watch above (or go here to jump to certain songs), or download in its entirety here.

the original:

Roy Ayers - Red Black & Green : Red Black & Green

another great cover and tribute to the late J Dilla from the show:

Visit Robert Glasper's website, his label Blue Note Records, and become his friend on MySpace and Facebook.

Sunday Soul - Now Run and Tell That

You said you were the greatest man alive, oh yes you did
But I made up my mind to cut you down to size, oh yeah.
I'll put somethin' on your mind,
You'll never forget, no, baby.

I've got you walking in a daze,
You ain't recovered yet, oh no.

Hey hey, Mr. Big Stuff,
Hey Romeo,
You can tell the world,
That I told you so,
That I was gonna show you where it's at.
Now run and tell that.

Denise LaSalle - Now Run and Tell That : Now Run and Tell That 7"

Friday, January 21, 2011

Making Deals with the Devil

"Robert Johnson to me is the most important blues musician who ever lived. He was true, absolutely, to his own vision, and as deep as I have gotten into the music over the last 30 years, I have never found anything more deeply soulful than Robert Johnson. His music remains the most powerful cry that I think you can find in the human voice, really."
-Eric Clapton

Mention the name Robert Johnson to nearly anyone knowledgeable about that blues and they're bound to have lots to tell you about him. Johnson learned from his contemporaries, men such as Son House, Lonnie Johnson, Elmore James, and others, but quickly surpassed their skills. Although one of the most celebrated bluesman in history, Johnson died at the tender young age of 27, and every single one of his recordings (including alternate takes) can be collected in just two CDs (and found in the box set Robert Johnson - The Complete Recordings).

Regardless of the duration of his career, or the depth of his recorded releases, Johnson's legacy is one that affected the development of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and indeed American music period. Countless musicians mention his name as an idol of theirs, or reference his songs as instrumental in the development of their own sound. Musicians such as Eric Clapton above, the electric bluesmen of the 60's, and numerous rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, and Cream.

Numerous legends suggest that Johnson made a pact with the devil for his musical mastery, but had he lived past 27 (when he was reportedly poisoned for flirting with a jookhouse owner's wife while playing at his establishment!), Johnson would have turned 100 this year. With that in mind, Big Head Todd and the Monsters have decided to release a tribute album full of covers of some of Johnson's most powerful songs titled 100 Years of Robert Johnson. They've dubbed themselves the Big Head Blues Club, and invited several esteemed guests along for the ride: Charlie Musselwhite, Hubert Sumlin, Ruthie Foster, and B.B. King.

The resulting music, while using Johnson's material, has a substantially different feel to it, which is good because, hey, it's Robert Johnson - you just can't compete with him at his own game. It's more akin to the electric blues of the 60's than the roots of the 20's and 30's (check out B.B. King singing on Crossroads Blues). While it might not match Johnson's emotional intensity, it conveys his spirit and does jump with more vibrancy due in parts to the electronic sound as well as simply the recording technology that delivers it to us.

In addition, the band will be touring over the next few months in support of the album, check below for dates if you like what you hear.

and the original:

Visit the official Robert Johnson website and his Facebook page.
Visit Big Head Todd and the Monster's website and become their friend on MySpace and Facebook.

Upcoming Tour Dates

Jan. 28 San Francisco, CA Regency Ballroom
Jan. 29 Costa Mesa, CA Orange County Performing Arts Center
Jan. 30 San Diego, CA (2 shows) Anthology
Jan. 31 Santa Barbara, CA Campbell Hall / UCSB
Feb. 04 Austin, TX Paramount Theatre
Feb. 05 Dallas, TX Lakewood Theatre
Feb. 10 Ann Arbor, MI Hill Auditorium / U of M
Feb. 11 Chicago, IL Orchestra Hall
Feb. 12 Kansas City, MO Uptown Theatre
Feb. 13 Meridian, MS Riley Center / MSU
Feb. 16 Chapel Hill, NC Memorial Hall / UNC Chapel Hill
Feb. 17 North Bethesda, MD The Music Center at Strathmore
Feb. 18 Boston, MA Berklee School of Music
Feb. 24 Ridgefield, CT Ridgefield Playhouse
Feb. 25 Princeton, NJ McCarter Theatre
Feb. 26 Blue Bell, PA Montgomery County Community College
Feb. 27 New Bedford, MA Zeiterion Theater
March 4 Milwaukee, WI Potowatomi Casino
March 5 Omaha, NE Holland Performing Arts Center
March 6 Minneapolis, MN Orchestra Hall
March 8 Urbana, IL Krannert Center – Tyrone Festival Theatre

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Win some Bob Marley!

This contest isn't hosted by MISB, but I wanted to pass it along anyway as it's pretty amazing. Up for grabs is the above pictured goodness: Bob Marley & The Wailers - Live Forever: The Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA, September 23, 1980. It comes out February 1st in a few different formats, but all of them include the last recorded concert of Marley's life It's available in a 2 CD format (pre-order it here), and the super deluxe 2 CD and 3 LP version pictured above (pre-order that one here).

OR, if you want to win, you can enter on Twitter or Facebook. Good luck!

Bob Marley & the Wailers - Get Up, Stand Up : Live!

Visit the Bob Marley website, and become his friend (from the other side) on Facebook and MySpace.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tennis Anyone?

Tennis - Pigeon from Scott Laidlaw on Vimeo.

Looking for some charming twee pop to mix in with your favorite Camera Obscura songs while you're waiting for them to put out a new album? Look no farther than Tennis. Yeah, like the game, except it's a guy/gal duo hailing from this side of the Atlantic. They play some lovely catchy, seemingly simplistic, melodic songs that flow along swimmingly!

Visit their label Fat Possum Records and become their friend on MySpace and Facebook.

Monday, January 17, 2011

We've got to have a holiday

he talked about love
about unification
talked about love
and dedication
he wanted to see peace
across the nation
call for an end to world starvation
feel the heart's inspiration
he used the world as his foundation

we need a proclamation
some sign of our affection
we've got to have a holiday
Martin Luther King

Amazingly, it wasn't until 2000 that all 50 states officially recognized Martin Luther King, Jr. day as a holiday. We've still got a ways to go.

Roy Ayers - Holiday : Virgin Ubiquity II

Become Roy Ayers' friend on MySpace.
Visit The King Center.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Soul - Funky Street

Down on Funky Street, diggin the funky beat
Down on Funky Street that's where the grooviest people meet
Sweet soul music is in the air
People are comin' from everywhere
Comin' from the east, comin' from the west
Dancin with the one they love the best

Arthur Conley - Funky Street : Funky Street 7"

Arthur Conley - Put Our Love Together : Funky Street 7" B-side

Find them both on Soul Directions.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Oye Como Va!

Here's one of my personal favorites, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, covering a classic Latin song this last New Years.

the original:

Tito Puente - Oye Como Va : El Rey - A Man and his Music

Visit their website, their label Hollywood Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Say (and sing) Yes

Yesterday I wrote about Nigerian legend, Fela Kuti. Today, I'll share a contemporary Nigerian-American artist named Iyeoka. Besides sharing a nationality though, her music is quite different than Kuti's afrobeat. About the closest comparison I can conjure up would be Ursula Rucker (who coincidentally released her latest album She Said just yesterday), although even that would be an uneven stretch. Iyeoka's album Say Yes is an interesting mixture of electronic soul/dance music, spoken word, and jazz, one that constantly shifts its approach from beginning to end.

Besides being a musician, Iyeoka also is a poet, which is where the spoken word elements of her album come into play (the powerful I Travel Home does an intense working of comparing her two worlds) and the previous comparison to Rucker. Visiting her website will reveal a whole body of poetic works, including the following poem:

Possibly I will
soon never
need to go too long without you, my love.
Perhaps we will move on this understanding
that this

We will
reminisce when age finds us seasoned,
in legend with love.
Loving the water,
we will baptise
and sing of the days
Of our youth when we
were beautiful…
and…back where I began
to fall full in love
with you-Heart wide open

Home soon became
anywhere we came
together. And maybe tomorrow,
you will wake demanding
me to your side
as your wife
as your friend
as a woman who
will carry your

Maybe we will stumble
over the lines
before we find ourselves
We will soon know
what all of this

This burgeoning optimism is also apparent in much of the material on her album, with The Yellow Brick Road Song, the opening track, being a perfect example. And although the realities of the world don't escape her (such as when she sings "Break down, break down down / The walls of happily ever after" in the similarly titled track), the album's title reminds us of Iyeoka's message, just as the closing lines of the last track My Current Anthem reiterate, "Remember the road is on time with your arrival / And your next moment to shine flies on the horizon."

Visit her website, her label Underground Sun, and become her friend on MySpace and Facebook.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fela Finale

Three tidbits of Fela Kuti news, in increasing order of excitement:

1.) I've posted a few times on Knitting Factory's reissue of the Fela Kuti catalog, and as all good things must come to an end, so does the roll-out of remastered afrobeat. Next week comes the final batch of Fela Kuti albums: ten albums from the end of Kuti's outstanding career including Coffin For Head Of State (1979) / Unknown Soldier (1980), Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense (1986), Original Suffer Head (1981) / I.T.T. (1980), Live In Amsterdam (1984), Army Arrangement (1984), Beasts Of No Nation (1989) / O.D.O.O. (1990), and his final release, Underground System (1992). This music comes from Kuti's life when we was touring around the world, bringing his music and his country's problems to audiences everywhere.

2.) In addition to this final set of CDs, Knitting Factory is also putting out a vinyl box set curated by none other than ?uestlove of The Roots on February 1st. Supposedly, it's the first in a series, and will include six albums handpicked by ?uestlove including Everything Scatter, Expensive Shit, Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense, Beasts Of No Nation, Fear Not For Man, and Sorrow Tears And Blood. All artwork (both label and cover) will be an accurate replica of the originals.

3.) I've been yapping about catching the musical Fela! on Broadway for a while now, but have yet to put my money (and car) where my mouth is. Well, thanks to London's National's Olivier Theatre, I'm not going to have to drive into the Big Apple to see it, and neither do YOU! On January 13th (yes, this Thursday), the production will be filmed live and broadcast to 86 movie screen in the United States (as well as to nineteen other countries). And lucky for me, one of those 86 screens is practically right in my backyard and I'll be attending! To say I'm eager for Thursday night to roll around would be the understatement of 2011. I've been listening to the Original Broadway Cast Recording (which features Antibalas as the backing band) for quite some time now, and even though the British broadcast will have a different backing band, I'm positive that they'll be (almost) just as good. To see if it will be playing at a venue near you, visit the National Theatre Live website (for both American and international showings).

Without further adieu, here's a song from this latest batch as played by the Broadway cast:

Visit the albums' label Knitting Factory Records and the show's official website.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Sunday Soul - Kung Fu Fighting

They were funky China men from funky Chinatown
They were chopping them up and they were chopping them down
It's an ancient Chinese art and everybody knew their part
From a feint into a slip, and kicking from the hip

Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightening
But they fought with expert timing

Carl Douglas - Kung Fu Fighting : Kung Fu Fighting 7"

Carl Douglas - Gamblin' Man : Kung Fu Fighting 7" B-side

Get the A-side all of these places.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Tree of Mystery

When I first started spinning Tree of Mystery, I thought it sounded vaguely familiar, like something that I should be able to place. After about the third spin, another band popped into my head: Ancient Astronauts, a band that I got turned onto about a year and a half ago. I went searching through my music, played their album We Are to Answer, and sure enough, it was a sonic step-brother. And then the truth hit me, Kabanjak, the musician behind Tree of Mystery, is one half of the duo that make up Ancient Astronauts!

While not having completely split from his fellow musician Dogu, Kabanjak's release Tree of Mystery (whose cover I really dig, check it below) is his first flying solo. It carries a lot of the characteristics of his work as an Ancient Astronaut, with melodies that alternately feel as if they're soaring in the sky and then swirling in a Middle Eastern desert. Every so often, scattered through his musical meditations, come rhymes laid down by guest vocalists. At some points it feels like you're meditating in the heavens, and others you're immersed right here in Earth, with no clear horizon distinguishing the two.

and a few older ones:

Visit his label ESL Music and become his friend on MySpace and Facebook.

Friday, January 07, 2011

A Listening Salve

Silje Nes | A Take Away Show | Symmetry Of Empty Space from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

Silje Nes' music just oozes beauty. The Norwegian's voice is as delicate as a butterfly, as gently flowing as a brook. Opticks, her latest album, features the track she plays live above, and which you can download below. If you need an album to brush out the ruffles of life, a salve to sooth your soul, look no further than this one. What comes to mind to compare it to it This Mortal Coil, without the dramatic ups and downs, rather a gentle undulation.


Visit her label FatCat Records and become her friend on MySpace and Facebook.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Jazz Brunch Jam - Mushroom Jazz

For today's Jazz Brunch Jam, we're taking it new school, with the latest in Mark Farina's Mushroom Jazz Series, #7. Farina first introduced the series back in 1996, and his goal has remained constant since then: to collect and share some of the best and brightest in what would probably most neatly be called acid jazz. To simply let that term define all nineteen tracks would do it a disservice, though. Be prepared for a spectrum of cuts that loosely start with a jazz base and then add on some hip hop infused beats, moments of trippy loops, and dance floor inducing bumping. It's cool and it's hot, it swings and it chills. The grooves go deep, but not for too long.

Slakah the Beatchild - Macheeto : Mushroom Jazz 7

and one from the last volume:

Colossus feat. G-off & The Whooligan - The What? : Mushroom Jazz 6

Visit his website and become his friend on MySpace and Facebook.

Sunday Soul - New Year's Resolution

Many times we had our ups and downs
And times you needed me I couldn't be found
I'm sorry
And I'm sorry too
I'll never, never do it again, no, no, no
So baby before we fall out
Let's fall on in, yeah, yeah
Oh, and we're gonna try harder
Not to hurt each other again, oh

Love me baby, huh
Week after week
And baby let's make promises
That we can keep
And call it our New Year's resolution, yeah, oh

Otis Redding and Carla Thomas - Lovey Dovey : Lovey Dovey 7"

Otis Redding and Carla Thomas - New Year's Resolution : Lovey Dovey 7" B-side

Find them both on King & Queen.