[ always tell stories ]

Let's Resurrect The Duet, Please

Remember the days of “
Up Where We Belong”? The interplay between two singers creates an energy that can’t be matched in solo work. Here’s a recent example from Jason Reeves and Kara DioGuardi - it’s an uncomplicated, down-tempo song but the vocals are good.

I’d like to see us get back to loving this type of songwriting and performance. Word on the street is that Kara will appear on Kelly Clarkson’s new album, “Stronger,” when it drops in October. Kelly’s first toe-tapping single, “Mr. Know It All,” is available now on iTunes.


The Gospel Of Parachute

(ATLANTA - 6 September 2011) :: Songwriting, crisp arrangements and soulfulness are alive and well, I’m happy to report.

All evidenced by Parachute’s latest record, “The Way it Was” (Island Def Jam). The band first caught my ear with the driving, soulful “Under Control” - a fine if a bit safe pop-rock track that spurred me to snag the entire album. I’m glad I did, because it was the perfect prep for their newest effort.

go to Parachute’s official website

No sophomore slump here - far from it. The album cover art is a throw-back to an old Chicago or Doobie Brothers cover, shot plainly in a leafy park setting.

”The Way it Was,” Parachute

But don’t let that fool you: the production is slick and the writing is stellar. Despite the strange, retro look on the cover, the band fearlessly delves into hybrid waters, with the unabashed, gospel-infused “Something to Believe In.”

“You spend your days alone still hopin' for the truth,
But all you hear are lies”

As a writer and lyricist, that’s a line that hit right at my core. We are a nation hoping for something new, something truthful, but all we are fed is bullshit - and then we’re expected to stay quiet and accept the scene of our country crumbling at its core.

But the lyric and arrangement is raised up by the gospel backing - a daring move for a band not known for that. I’d push back on their video for not highlighting those specific vocals, because they absolutely make the song. But I’m nit-picking.

I don’t use the term “fearless” lightly with this record - because rock bands often shy away from anything that takes them outside of their wheelhouse. (And they are often criticized for doing so,
as Liz Phair found out the hard way.) Creating accessibility in songwriting is not tantamount to watering down or “selling out” - it’s a tool to speak to more people.

Just ask
Steve Winwood, who saw “Higher Love” shoot to the top of the charts with the blistering, stellar backing of Chaka Khan. How could that song have soared as it did without her vocal - and without that added accessibility? Answer: it couldn’t. They did, in fact, show Chaka in the video, too.

In all, and in the midst of the nutty spin-cycle of never ending new-band parades, Parachute has done an incredible job. So check it out on iTunes if you haven’t already; make sure to spin “
Kiss Me Slowly” (written with members of Lady Antebellum), “You and Me,” and “Philadelphia” - an uncomplicated tune reminiscent of some of Josha Radin’s best stuff.

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'I've Been Thinkin' Bout Something' Other Than Music Judgment


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Spontaneous Reunion In Song

Saratoga was way more than just a 20-year college reunion - it was a late-night Rick Astley-fest.

Tim & Willy • Reunited and it feels so good from Gary Gray on Vimeo.


'But These Stories Don't Mean Anything When You've Got No One To Tell Them To'


'You Gotta Rescue Yourself.' Amen.


One From The Vault: The Always Sexy Jennifer Paige & 'Sober'

I stumbled across this on LastFM today. One of the better tracks on her debut CD, “Sober” is something I can really resonate with these days.


Treasuring People In Life Is Not Just 'Black or White'

(5 July 2009 - AUGUSTA, GA) Beneath the veils, white gloves and baby dangling, an artist moved through our pop-culture consciousness with a singular adeptness. As the long-version video shows, “Back or White” beautifully summarizes his conflict with and love of life... where he wanted to reject conventional perceptions but also show a longing for acceptance.

We are gearing up for a memorial for this man, this legend - no matter what your opinion of him, our world will be a lot less interesting without him.

And herein lies my point: We can’t wait for death to appreciate life. In his last 10 or so years, he was a lightening rod for lawsuits (some of them deserved), criticism and many, many aspersions. Much of his life drama played out publicly... and much if not all was self-created.

But amidst all of this, here’s the question: Why is everyone always a saint after they die? He wasn’t a saint, he didn’t walk on water. He was human... and a very talented one at that. We should work harder to celebrate life while we have it - instead of waiting to deliver a eulogy and wishing we had just one more moment in the waking world.

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'Born To Shimmer, Born To Shine' - A Wish For All Of US


Julia Kills On Rosie's Cruise

Seems like I've got a Diva fetish these past few days... here's a gem from Rosie's latest cruise.


Never 'Underestimate' Jennifer Paige. She's Baaaaaaaack

This video basically makes the following important point: if you're gonna be an arrogant douche hole, I'm takin' the credit card.

And the car!

Video, Underestimated Jennifer Paige

Knowing Thyself: 'The More We Take The Less We Become'

"I try to bring more than I can handle; I bring it to the table, I bring what I am able."

I keep forgetting what an amazing talent
Sarah McLachlan is. She makes music worth listening to.

There's obviously a parallel between "World on Fire" and our commitment to the planet... where you can do your part, your little part, that affects the greater good. It's about challenging ourselves for tough decisions, and not to shy away from something that appears complex on its face, but that can and will be tremendously rewarding in the end.

I admire people who can so eloquently tell that story and inspire us to walk the earth with greater respect -- of people and of nature.

That's not tree-hugger sensibility, it's humanity. Easy.


Provocative? Evocative? Maines Was Then, And Is Now, A Hero

(ATLANTA :: 7 July 2008) Funny how time flies after being called a bitch.

And that's the nice language. Here's a classic from the MySpace TV vault that can be watched over and over for its honesty and spot-on message.

Dixie Chicks: Not Ready to Make Nice-ACL 2007

Back in 2003,
Maines expressed regret that our president hailed from Texas. Back then, in my mind, the whole thing won Best in Show in the "Who Gives A Shit" competition of offensive remarks. But whatever.

As it turns out, since then, we've come to know the Bush Administration for playing fast and loose with our freedoms, our military and foreign-policy decisions, and his choices to head up key leadership roles. And that's just for starters.

"Doin' a heckuva job Brownie."

From self-aggrandizing executive signing orders to consolidating executive-branch power, he's not only a failure but a danger to our nation as long as he's in office. I'm counting the days.

I'd be ashamed if he were from Atlanta (or New York, or Virginia -- even West Virginia). Happy The good news? We got that great CD out of the whole affair, and they were rewarded for it at the Grammys.

As you watch the above beautiful video, remember how much shit Maines and the Chicks got (remember the radio station-sponsored bulldozers running over their CDs?) and how she transmuted it into something truly amazing.

Turns out, I'm very often not ready to make nice, either.


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No Embedding? Fine... I'll Go To The Concert And Do It Myself

This is a sequel post from yesterday. Mission accomplished.

I suppose I played right into their hands by attending the concert, but at least I kept my protest clean by not patronizing
Ticketwhore, oh sorry, I mean Ticketmaster. I bought directly from Variety Playhouse's box office.

Enjoy the clip below. More to follow on my
YouTube channel.

Colbie Caillat's vocals were strong and the audience seemed chill and engaged. A rare combination. Kudos to her for sticking with small venues.


Corporate America Sucks Ass

I'm going to see Colbie Caillat tonight at Variety Playhouse. I'd like to embed one of her videos from YouTube, but I can't because Universal Music has disabled that function.

The company obviously believes that being purveyors of creative property translates into being proprietary assholes.

So, instead of posting her video -- in fact, as a protest to NBC Universal's refusal to play in the sandbox like the rest of us -- here's a montage from a stalwart

This little nugget has about 800K views... Hits that the greedy bastards at the record company would have benefited from.


Matthew Kahler's New Set Is Awesome

Click here to check out Matthew Kahler Music ! ! !

Demand Gavin Mikhail In Atlanta... Great Tunes


'Is There Any Other Reason... Why We Stay Instead Of Leaving'

Jon McLaughlin is an awesome performer and songwriter... and I'm really getting his song "Human" this week.

Here's a passage that speaks:

"I'm smart enough to know that life goes by
And it leaves a trail of broken bones behind
If you feel I'm letting go, just give me time
I'll come running to your side..."

Lyrics are
here, and see the mini scroll feature below.

Jon McLaughlin Lyrics
Human Lyrics

This Entire CD Is Awesome... If You Just 'Realize' Colbie

Upcoming Events by Eventful

I Know Her So Well: Not Just In The Movies

Check out this video: I Know Him So Well

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Jenny Paige Making Her Comeback Soon!

Check out this video: Sober

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Tunes Page Updated!

My reviews feature had been disabled, but now it's live again!

Check it out

Shawn Mullins Brings His A Game To Eddies... Again

This is the first in a series I'm gonna upload this week... Shawn Mullins once again knocked us all over at Eddie's Attic, ending with a standing ovation after "Shimmer." Still the best in the business.

Thanks to Thom, Kim and Jimmy BB for making the company just as awesome as the entertainment. Pics and other videos to follow soon...


Pipes From The Past... Cyndi Lauper Blows On You(s)Tube

Take a look at Ms. Lauper on YouTube (courtesy of Crusty). She's way more than the girl who wants to have fun -- she's a controlled, accomplished singer. WTG.