Jane Monheit Shows That She Is The Merriest In Jazz

Posted October 2022

Jane Monheit 002We don't cover a lot of jazz here at Boomerocity but it's not because we don't like it. We love jazz and there are all sorts of great, new jazz out there and we do listen to it. We just don't get that much of an opportunity to interview the artists from the jazz field.

That changed very recently when I had the opportunity to talk with Jane Monheit. Jane has in the jazz world a long time, but I just discovered her recently and I love her work. I recently received an advanced copy of her new Christmas CD, The Merriest.

Let me tell you, folks: This collection of Christmas classics is covered like you’ve never heard them covered before. If you love Christmas music and if you love jazz, this album is a must have for your personal listening library (and do order this one directly from Jane!). This comes from a person who is usually skeptical about new Christmas albums. This one is great!

I wasn't sure what to expect. I hadn't heard of Jane before. But believe me, I'm never going to forget her now because her voice is amazing. And she has the genre nailed down The Merriest CoverClick Above To Order Your Copytight. It is great jazz, regardless of the musical themes that she's singing. After listening to this album, I went out and listened to all her other music, and it is phenomenal. She does an amazing job. I'm a fan. I'm going to be a fan for the rest of my days. I think you will be as well after you listen to this interview.

Get the Christmas record. While you're at it, just go ahead and get all her music that’s available on her website (here). You’re going to be a fan even if you're not a jazz enthusiast, you're going to love Jane and her work.

In addition to following Jane Monheit at her website, you can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

The Boomerocity Interview With Jane Monheit

Melody Trucks Explains Why She's Walking In Gratitude

Posted Octover 2022

MTB bandpic MichealPrice resizedThink back about 40 or so probably almost 50 years ago.

Think about the Allman Brothers.

Think about their album, “Brothers and Sisters”, probably one of the most iconic albums (and covers) of that time for that genre of music.

Think about that little boy on the cover. Well, that little boy was Vaylor Trucks, who is the son of the late great Butch Trucks, the drummer for the Allman Brothers Band who, sadly, we lost in January of 2017. The inside of the album cover features a large, panoramic photo of the entire Allman Brothers family and friends.

Vaylor has a sister by the name of Melody. She is the baby being held on the left side of that panoramic photo inside “Brothers and Sisters”. I recently got to talk to walkingingratitudecoverClick Above To Order Your CopyMelody, about all things music, about her album, “Walking in Gratitude”. We also talk about what she, Vaylor and others are doing to perpetuate and carry on the legacy, the sound, and the memory of the Allman Brothers. Additionally, we also discuss how the sound of the Allman Brothers is affecting her own music that she's creating as well as that of her brothers and cousins like Derek trucks, and many others that have been a part of or touched by the Allman Brothers Band.

It is a fascinating chat. Though a bit long, I think it is worth every second for you to listen to. When you get done listening to it, please check out Melody’s website and Facebook page. Buy her album because it is wonderful. You're absolutely going to love it. If you love the Allman Brothers Band, you can tell that their influences are there and worth every penny that you invest in purchasing it.

The Boomerocity Interview With Melody Trucks

Robert "Kool" Bell Is Still Kool and Is Still In The Gang

Posted October 2022

Robert Kool Bell 3Like many of you, I was in high school in the 70s. At the school dances, of course, we heard all the great dance music popular at that time. Some of us guys prayed for them to play Stairway to Heaven so that we could dance a long, slow dance with the girl we had our eyes on.

Invariably, what always brought people out onto the dance floor and putting down their best dance moves were bands like Kool and the Gang. When you had songs like Jungle Boogie, or Hollywood Swinging cranking up over the speakers, people loved to rush out onto the gym floor and dance. That's what I always think of whenever I hear a Kool and the Gang song today.

Ever since I launched Boomerocity, Robert “Kool” Bell has been on my short list of icons I wanted to interview. He's the “Kool” in Kool and the Gang. For me to be able to talk with him was a special honor and a special thrill. In doing so I was able to thank him for all those years of great music. That’s because that music is tied to so many fond memories of those years of our youth – back when we knew everything, and we had our whole lives ahead of us.

Now we can all look back and think about all that and have a soundtrack that was put out by Kool and the Gang.

To me, it was a special treat to be able to talk to him. Robert and I talked about the stuff going on with the band and some of the side projects they have going on. You're gonna love the little autobiographical vignettes they are putting together. If you loved watching cartoons as a kid, you're gonna love this stuff. Episode 1 is to the left on this page. You can see all of them here on their website.

I hope you watch and listen to this entire interview because it is special. When you're finished watching it, I hope you share it with your friends and I hope you go and buy Kool and the Gang’s music again if you haven't bought it lately, because it's still great. Their new stuff still has the Kool and the Gang signature sound while bringing a new freshness to it. They stay current and they're worth your investment of time and money.

You can keep up with Kool and the Gang here on their website as well as on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

The Boomerocity Interview With Robert "Kool" Bell

 

Steven Page Shares How His Music Is Moving Ever Upward With Excelsior

Posted October 2022

Steven Page by croppedPhoto by David BergmanThe guy I'm about to share my interview with you, I realized is from a band that came a little after what normal baby boomers would say, is part of our wheelhouse of listening but I know you've heard of them.

We're not locked into the genres of the 50s 60s 70s and very early 80s. In fact, many of you are much more progressive in your listening habits than I am. You listen to new bands and up and comers and whoever the latest bands are. A lot of you are even into hip hop. I'm not one of those kinds of guys. But I love the diversity that our demographic represents there.

If you remember, in the late 80s, early 90s, there was a band called Barenaked Ladies. They had great songs like, “If I Had “1,000000”, “Brian Wilson”, “One Week”, “It's All Been Done”. Even the theme song from the Big Bang Theory. These guys are great.

The songwriter for them was Steven Page. He writes very intricate, very detailed, very thought-provoking, and even quirky type of lyrics. That's what intrigues me about him, because let's face it, rock and roll lyrics are basically pretty simple. But you can't say that about Barenaked Ladies songs or Steven Page songs, which are one in the same, but he has come out with several solo records.

Steven’s newest one is titled, Excelsior. He and I chatted just before he was going on stage for the last night of his tour with - get this – The Who. Steven shared a lot of insight into his new album, what he did during the pandemic, among other things. It was a fun talk that I think you guys are really going to like. If so, please share it with your friends. Oh, and order  your copy of "Excelsior" by clicking on the album cover shown with the album's official press release at the bottom of this page following the interview video.

You can keep up with Steven at his website, StevenPage.com, as well as on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

The Boomerocity Interview With Steven Page

 

EXCELSIOR COMING FROM STEVEN PAGE
FIRST ALBUM FROM BARENAKED LADIES ALUMNUS IN MORE THAN FOUR YEARS SET FOR RELEASE SEPTEMBER 30
“ZOOM” SINGLE OUT NOW

ExcelsiorCoverClick Above To Order Your CopyThe artist has to ‘keep pushing through’, and it isn’t easy, but Mr. Page has the talent to make that effort worthwhile. – New York Times

On September 30, Steven Page will release Excelsior digitally; it’s his first solo album since 2018. The album on Page’s Fresh Baked Goods imprint will be available on CD November 11 with a 2-LP vinyl version out early in 2023.

The album’s 11 tracks were composed and produced entirely by Page, who co-founded the band Barenaked Ladies, before departing on a solo career in 2009. The lion’s share of material on Excelsior was “workshopped” for audiences on his wildly popular virtual concert series Live From Home that Page has been conducting via Zoom since April of 2020 from his home near Syracuse, NY. Thousands of fans throughout the world have been tuning in on Saturdays (5 PM Eastern, 2PM Pacific,10PM/UK, 7AM Sunday - Australia-Eastern), which are limited to 1000 ticketed audience members per show, with an estimated to-date paid viewer total of 85,000+. The more than 90 episodes of Live From Home are available through Patreon. The Excelsior track titled “Zoom” is, in fact, the album’s first single and out this week.

While Page played most of the instruments heard on Excelsior, other musicians participating include Craig Northey (guitar, vocals) and Kevin Fox (cello, vocals), members of the Steven Page Trio, his touring ensemble who are well known to Live From Home viewers for their ability to accompany Page from remote locations. Also heard on Excelsior are Doug Elliott of the Odds (bass), as well as Joe Pisapia (pedal steel), who had been a member of Guster and has both backed and produced k.d. lang. Steven’s brother Matthew Page guests on drums.

Once the Canada-US border re-opened, Page was able to complete Excelsior at his Fresh Baked Woods (FBW) studio in Blackstock, Ontario with some of the basic tracks recorded in the Upstate New York basement from which Live From Home originates most Saturdays. FBW is the same facility where several Barenaked Ladies albums, including Barenaked For The Holidays were recorded. Seven of the 11 tracks comprise a thematically linked song cycle that Page characterizes as “a suite of songs tied into what we’ve been involved with over the last ten years.” These will occupy sides A and B of the 2 LP version of Excelsior when it is released next year along with the unrelated additional four songs (“gifts with purchase,” Steven jokes) to be found on side C of the second LP. Side D will be silent and occupied by an etched graphic. “So you have two buckets of songs, so to speak. One speaks to an ‘outer life’ -- bigger picture stuff. The others are largely about our very online existence and isolation we’ve all experience. It’s about all of us who spend too much time online.”

The songs on sides A and B are, in some way, an overview of humanity’s plight as reflected in the struggles of the individual. Says Page, “I don’t want to make it totally prescriptive as in ‘this is how you should hear it,’ but you might want it to apply it to your own lives if you feel so moved.”

“Feel” takes place at a funeral and deals with loss and grieving, a church choir plays inside the mourner’s head while “What Will I Do Now” is about learning to live with loss. “Human Doll” imagines a world where the ideal partner can be acquired by mail order and shipped to one’s door, the outcome of which is equally lonely and troubled as our current reality. “How Much Is Enough” that had been set to debut but was postponed due to COVID19 as part of Here’s What It Takes, the musical Page wrote for the 2020 Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada.

“Look To the Stars” is a musical contemplation of what might be “bigger than us” and beyond our ability to understand. Page describes “Infinitely Light Years” along these lines: “In my mind we’re floating through space . . . it’s a duet (with myself) but imaged as between two separate people, a kind of quantum entanglement. It asks if it’s possible that we’re tied to somebody else who we don’t even know.” That’s followed by “Safe” in which one member of a couple explains the benefit of boundaries; Page suggests it’s “a plea for time and letting people set their own space.” In more than one way it calls back “Feel,” the opener.

The free-standing songs on side C include “Xylorimba,” conjured up for a special episode of Live From Home that called for Steven to perform 26 songs, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet. For Live From Home A to Z, Steven had 25 letters covered with existing repertoire, so he commissioned himself to write a song titled with a word starting with ‘X.’ He chose an arcane musical instrument that he calls a “the oddball child of a xylophone and a marimba” popular 90+ years ago and not often spoken of or played in more recent times. The song addresses that oversight, both in a titular and musical sense.

The song “Zoom” is paradoxical for Page to have created, as he is something of a skeptic. “There’s a point of view that we’re supposed to believe that technology somehow makes our lives worse. During the pandemic Zoom did what it was supposed to do so you gotta hand it to them.” “The Golden Age of Doubling Down,” is focused on “our desire to be cruel to each other,” but is musically quite upbeat.

There’s also the self-deflating “Something About Me,” which Page characterizes as “a personal song about my own tendency to make everybody else’s problems about me. People’s sense of empathy is defined by their own ego. I like to point fingers at myself, not at other people.”

The album’s title, taken from the state motto of New York that relates to a Canadian living there and unable to go back to his native land for more than a year and half to see his parents or kids. Page, who was born in Scarborough, Ontario and inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in explains, “I was kind of stuck here (Manlius, NY) and, in essence, became a true New Yorker. The state’s vaccine passports are called Excelsior Passes and we reflect the slogan’s ‘onward and upward’ meaning in the album’s artwork.”

Beyond Live From Home and the new album, Page was commissioned to write “Canada Loves You Back” on the occasion of Ryan Reynolds being given the nation’s 2021 Governor General’s Performing Arts Award. In a Tweet seen by almost 4 million, Reynolds referred to Page as “a friend and a legend” and thanked him “for wasting this amazing song on me."

This fall, the Steven Page Trio open select North American dates for The Who. “We’re not using drums on the Who dates; we can’t compete with them so the best thing you can do in that situation is to do the thing you do well.” He points out that “The Who was the first band -- that wasn’t the Beatles -- that I fell in love with.” The Steven Page Trio is additionally doing Midwest tour dates and expects to be on the West Coast in January in support of Excelsior.

Steven Page – Excelsior track list
Side A
1) Feel
2) What’ll I Do Now
3) Human Doll
4) How Much Is Enough
Side B
1) Look To The Stars
2) Infinitely Light Years
3) Safe
Side C
1) The Golden Age Of Doubling Down
2) Xylorimba
3) Zoom
4) Something About Me
Side D – intentionally blank with etched graphic

Rory Block Says Ain't Nobody Worried

Posted October 2022

Rory Block PR Photo 2 Hi Res by Sergio KurhajecPhoto by Sergio KurhajecYa’ll already know what blues nuts we are here at Boomerocity so it shouldn’t be any surprise at all what a thrill it is to have the opportunity to interview one of the greats of the blues – male or female. An extra coolness factor is added when, not only is the artist female, but they are Rory Block.

I’ve followed Rory for a few years, and I’m always struck by several big things about her. Not only is she an amazing singer/songwriter/guitarist (check out her slide work!), but she also has an encyclopedic knowledge of the blues and folk. This was fed, in large part, to her destiny to be born when and where she was and being raised. That “when” provided the timing to be in Greenwich Village in the sixties. This allowed her to meet guitarist Stefan Grossman who turned her on to the legendary Mississippi blues greats.

All of this led to her meeting and becoming friends with the likes of Son House, Reverend Gary Davis (who was also her guitar teacher), Mississippi John Hurt, and others. She also rubbed shoulders with such folks as Pete Seger and Bob Dylan back in those incredible days.

With the blues decidedly injected into her bloodstream, Rory pursued her love of the genre by honing her craft on the guitar.

With thirty-seven albums in her body of work (including her brand-new album, Ain’t Nobody Worried), Rory is a master of her craft and genre. Listening to her play or talking about it is to experience a master class of the blues.

Rory and I recently chatted about the new album, the blues, and her baptism in it. It is a fun, delightful, and insightful conversation that you will definitely want to listen in on and share it with your fellow blues enthusiasts.

You can follow Rory on her website, here, as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Just below the interview video is the official press release for “Ain’t Nobody Worried” which you can order by clicking on the album cover on this page.

The Boomerocity Interview With Rory Block

 

Seven-Time Blues Music Award-Winner Rory Block Set to Release Her New Album, Ain’t Nobody Worried, October 7th from Stony Plain Records

 

Aint Nobody Worried CoverClick Above To Order Your CopyTORONTO, ON – In a storied career of many accolades and firsts, celebrated seven-time Blues Music Award-winner Rory Block will release perhaps her most-ambitious album yet, with Ain’t Nobody Worried, coming October 7th on Stony Plain Records.

As the third volume of her “Power Women of the Blues Series,” Ain’t Nobody Worried follows the logical course of its predecessors. Produced by Rory Block and Rob Davis for Aurora Productions, Ain’t Nobody Worried was recorded and mixed by Rob Davis at Kentucky Studios, Sandy Hook, Kentucky; and mastered by Toby Mountain of Northeastern Digital. Rory Block sang all the vocals, played all the guitar parts, slide, bass and percussion.

“The inspiration for this recording was born during the dreaded shutdowns,” recalls Rory Block about the album’s genesis. “Being quarantined led us to the idea of Home Broadcasts, which soon blossomed into two concerts per week over two years with an incredible following of viewers from around the world. We were all hungry for togetherness and music and found ourselves clinging to the idea that some form of normalcy still existed, somewhere, almost certainly in music.

After covering just about every blues, folk and Old Timey song I ever knew, the idea popped into my head to reach into the iconic songbook of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. That meant music that was on the radio over 50 years ago. It could be called historic, early American music. Viewer requests for their own favorites strengthened and expanded this idea, turning the concerts into a major potpourri of material. It was challenging, satisfying, and inspiring. The consensus was that it was time to hear these incredible songs again.

“While it was challenging, and I never had enough time to really learn the songs properly, no one minded or expected my acoustic versions to be replicas of the originals. We wanted to remember, celebrate, and cling to the emotions and memories these great songs embodied. We wanted to sing along. We wanted it to be a sentimental journey with an unexpected twist. That’s what this record is all about.

“I started referring to it as ‘The Campfire Sessions.’ That meant ‘Hey, pass me the guitar... lemme try that one!’ I was the person saying pass me the guitar- and that was just alright with everyone.

“In keeping with my latest ongoing project, ‘Power Women of the Blues,’ and inspired by the enthusiasm generated by the Home Concerts, I chose hit songs performed or written by female artists whose music changed the world. I could do multiple volumes easily as there are, as always, just too many great songs to choose from.

“There will be those who will question why I would decide to do songs by legends such as Gladys Knight, Mavis Staples, Mary Wells, and others. Why attempt to resurrect such untouchable greatness? I suppose the answer is the same reason I dare to do Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, and other early blues legends. I do not do these songs to create a better version than the original. Those versions are enshrined in the halls of Musical Heaven. I do these songs because I play the music I love the most. Creating new versions honors the original artists. And, as I learned during the Home Concerts, it’s time we thought about these amazing songs again.”

Ain’t Nobody Worried Track Listing and Comments by Rory

I’ll Take You There

The Staple Singers (featuring Mavis Staples)
Not much explanation needed. This is one of the all-time great and powerful crossover gospel songs with an immense rhythm track, graced by the matchless voice of Mavis Staples. Mavis proved that gospel is a force in pop music. “I’ll Take You There” was the first track we recorded and is the first track on this CD. It just felt right.

Midnight Train To Georgia

Gladys Knight and The Pips
Who can say “Midnight Train to Georgia” wasn’t one of the most soulful songs of its time, and who didn’t try to learn to sing listening to Gladys Knight’s superlative rich vocals? Who didn’t try to learn backup vocals and dance moves from the Pips? This song was a must-do, and the second track we recorded.

My Guy

Mary Wells
Mary Wells nailed this perfectly crafted song by Smokey Robinson, giving it passion, charm, and a wry sense of humor. I recorded it in the same key as the original, but then was dismayed to find my natural vocal range was deeper, so I thought about slowing the track or re-recording it. In the end, I sang it in a somewhat jazzy head voice and went with it. I could have given it a bit of growl in a deeper key, but maybe it didn’t need growl. After all, it is a spirited and fun song, and I had a great time singing, especially on the outro.

Fast Car

Tracy Chapman
Remember when this song came on the radio and blew our minds? It was a trendsetter, with a stereotype busting, cutting edge approach that was almost unheard of at the time. It was, however, (if I can pat myself on the back), an idea I had always cherished - taking an acoustic song and suddenly applying an earth-shaking drum track when least expected, taking the song, with its emotionally honest and arresting story, to another level altogether. Tracy was one of the first to really turn this approach into pure gold.

Cried Like A Baby

Koko Taylor
I met Koko Taylor on the road in Germany. I opened for her and her tighter-than-ever band for several shows on that tour, including a TV show that ended up as a laser disk (remember those)? She dubbed me “Little Miss Dynamite,” a name I deeply appreciate and cherish. No one could nail the power of a sexy full-out blues wail like Koko. On the outro, I ad lib one of my conversations with her, including her worldly wisdom and advice.

Love Has No Pride

Bonnie Raitt
Greenwich Village in the ‘60s was a hotbed of immense musical talent, with the likes of Bob Dylan living just two doors away from The Allan Block sandal shop, Joan Baez performing in local venues, Bonnie Raitt making waves with her heart wrenching blues, and the list goes on and on. My first boyfriend, Stefan Grossman, was friends with many of the pivotal players in the burgeoning scene. One of his good friends was a great songwriter and musician named Eric Kaz, who, together with Libby Titus, wrote ”Love Has No Pride.” We always thought it was the best song ever written, performed by Bonnie, the best singer on earth.

I’d Rather Go Blind

Etta James
This song led the way for the concept of this recording, establishing the theme celebrating great women of song. I just kept saying, “I can’t wait to sing ‘I’d Rather Go Blind.’” This song is one of the most haunting and moving portrayals of heartbreak ever written, sung by the amazingly gutsy blues voice of a woman who meant every word she sang. Etta, we got the tissues out.

Lovin’ Whiskey

Rory Block
This is the song I thought no one would care about. This is the song that got me on an airplane. This is the song that launched my career. This is the song I didn’t want to put on the record. This is the song that earned me a gold record and has remained my most popular and requested song for over 3 decades. I have heard repeatedly that it’s because it’s about the hidden struggles of the heart, and knowing we are not alone. More people say that it helped them through the hardest times of their lives than any other I have written. Murphy’s Law, you never know. Oh yes, great guitar player Bud Rizzo played the original heart-wrenching solo. I decided to follow it note for note, for better or worse, on my acoustic version. I also stuck with the original drum pattern that I somehow constructed on one of the first drum machines ever invented. It made no sense in that it wrapped around so the “one” beat was in a different place every verse, but it somehow worked… and you know, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Dancing In The Streets

Martha and The Vandellas
Great song, great performance from Martha and her Vandellas, great groove, solid gold, what’s not to love? Had to do this one for the pure joy of it.

You’ve Got A Friend

Carole King
This song came on the radio in one of the hardest periods of my life. Waking me from a deep sleep in a state of despair, hearing the vulnerable and unpretentious voice of Carole King made me sit up straight in bed and say, “Maybe I can do this!” It was a life changing moment. She was the voice of every woman.

Freight TrainElizabeth Cotton

This could be the most influential guitar style ever created. Libba Cotton once was Nanny to the Seeger children, until she was overheard sitting in another room singing this haunting tune. I celebrate her, not because this song became gold, but because in the most unassuming way, quietly and without a lot of fanfare, her guitar picking became one of the most influential guitar styles of all times.

"I do these songs because I play the music I love the most." -- Rory Block