Saturday, September 14, 2013

I Shall be Released

This post finds me sitting in an ICU in Florida watching my father fight for his life. I fully realize people go through this kind of thing every day, but I haven't before. The range of emotion is simply staggering; fear, anger, denial, acceptance, grief, you fucking name it. But the most frustrating emotion that I can't wrap my head around is helplessness. The feeling that there's nothing I can do to make him better or ease his suffering is beyond anything I've ever felt.

Last night as sat in a quiet room with the exception of the steady purr of pumps and machines, I fell back on the one constant source of serenity in my life in all times good and bad; MUSIC! I wanted my dad to hear all of his favorite songs in the hope it would lift him up and inspire him to fight or give him some peace if he has no fight left.

All my love of music started with my parents and especially my dad. He was a guy who in the 1970s had an album collection in the thousands featuring everything from Charles Mingus to Boston. Genres didn't matter to him and guilty pleasures didn't exist. So I sat for hours last night and today, playing DJ to a one person audience who I couldn't tell was listening but I knew couldn't turn the channel. Music always has the ability to transport you to another time or place. It can remind you of the past or make you think about an alternate future. So many of my memories of my dad revolved around music. He took me to my first and second concerts (Neil Diamond-Jazz Singer tour/KISS-Destroyer tour) when I was 7 years old. I hoped the music would reach him now the way I know it did throughout the rest of his life. I played all of his favorites; Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, The Band, etc. As Dylan was singing to us the bliss of dancing beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free, I asked my dad if he could hear it. He opened his eyes, squeezed my hand, and shook his head up and down ever so gently. I don't know how much the music is helping him, but as I sit and listen to these songs with him, I know they are helping me.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The beauty of Phox

Last month I was lucky attend the wonderful Mile of Music festival procured by hometown hero Cory Chisel. The 4-day fest featured almost a hundred bands all performing original material. No cover bands were allowed! It was a wonderful place to discover new bands, and by far the best discovery for me was the seven-piece Phox who all hale from little Baraboo, WI and now reside in Madison.

Led by enchanting vocalist Monica Martin, Phox is a wonderful blend of soul, folk, electronica, rock, and psychedelia. Monica's vocals are simply mesmerizing and their organic music is a wonderful slow burn; never in a hurry to get to one place. While they have yet to release a full length album, but you can listen to and purchase their two fantastic E.P.'s on the band's site. The week before I saw them, the band got a last minute invitation to play Chicago's huge Lollapolooza fest as a fill-in. The week after had them heading to Europe for the first time to play the Itunes Music Fest and other gigs. September will find them playing U.S. gigs opening for Blitzen Trapper.

Phox are my favorite musical discovery of the year and trust me that once more people are exposed to their wonderfully original blend, the world will be shouting about them. I suspect that day isn't too far off!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Songs you hear....

Greetings fellow music lovers! Below are a few songs that caught my ears in the past couple of weeks. If you're anything like me; with the glut of new music out there in this busy world, you find it hard to keep up. I do my best, but never feel like I even scratch the surface. Regardless; this cyber-space will be my dumping ground for the tunes that will hopefully enrich whoever stumbles on it.

The first one is a short, catchy piece of pop bliss from The Unlikely Candidates. I would've bet my meager pay check that these guys were English, but alas they are from Fort Worth, TX. They sure fooled me. That's ok.....a British accent in song is always welcome, even if it's fake (unless you're Green Day). This tune is getting a ton of play on various channels and deservedly so. Once it's in your head it's impossible to get out.

The next songs are maybe my favorites of the year, from New Jersey's The Front Bottoms. If I was a teenager, I would get a tattoo of their logo and these guys would be MY band! This is apparently their forth album so I'm really late to the party, but I'm so glad I showed up! I find their lyrics a brilliant mix of wit, heart, and hysterical observation that certainly don't sound like anyone else and the music suits them to perfection.

Turn these up and you're welcome!