Music

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Eroica Trio

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And yet, all of this pales in comparison to the headliner of the evening, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto in C Major for violin, cello, piano, and orchestra, performed by one of the most successful all-women chamber ensembles in the world, the Eroica Trio. Garnering its name from a Beethoven piece denoting a “middle-period” in the composer’s work where pieces henceforth were riddled with emotional depth and structural rigor, the group—made up of cellist Sara Sant’ Ambrogio, pianist Erika Nickrenz, and violinist Sara Parkins—similarly takes audience members aback with their incredibly magisterial ferocity and practiced wit. What better piece to emphasize the skills of the titan threesome than the Triple Concerto, a sporadically played arrangement that brings out the magical allure of each member, burdened with individual yet simultaneous solos throughout. Sant’Ambrogio said it best in a recent interview: “It is incredibly exciting watching three soloists toss these amazing melodies and virtuosic fireworks back and forth to each other and the orchestra while the conductor holds it all together and shapes that lush wave of orchestral sound that Beethoven is so famous for.”

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Andy Comeau and Dawn Lewis

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Andy Comeau is one of my favorite actors. If you don’t know his name, you are missing out. If you’ve ever watched Showtime, you may be familiar with the infinitely well-written, astoundingly performed, screwed up family drama, Award Winning HUFF starring Hank Azaria, Paget Brewster, Andy Comeau, Anton Yelchin, Blythe Danner, and Oliver Platt. Andy played the most endearing, mentally disturbed, heart-wrenching, heart warming brother, Teddy. HUFF is based on Dr. Craig “Huff” Huffstodt played by Azaria who has a teenage patient kill himself in his office. It causes an onslaught of story that unravels through 25 episodes. Teddy, played by Andy Comeau, is a character that to this day is one that deeply impacted me. He was so easy to love and empathize with in spite of the transparent imbalance of his psyche

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UB40

Sitting Down With UB40

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The story of UB40, and how this group of young friends from Birmingham transcended their working-class origins to become the world’s most successful reggae band is not the stuff of fairytales as might be imagined. The group’s led a charmed life in many respects it’s true, but it’s been a long haul since the days they’d meet up in the bars and clubs around Moseley, and some of them had to scrape by on less than £8 a week unemployment benefit. The choice was simple if you’d left school early. You could either work in one of the local factories, like Robin Campbell did, or scuffle along aimlessly whilst waiting for something else to happen.

By the summer of 1978, something else did happen, and the nucleus of UB40 began rehearsing in a local basement. Robin’s younger brother Ali, Earl Falconer, Brian Travers and James Brown all knew each other from Moseley School of Art, whilst Norman Hassan had been a friend of Ali’s since school. Initially, they thought of themselves as a “jazz-dub-reggae” band, but by the time Robin was persuaded to join and they’d recruited Michael Virtue and Astro – who’d learnt his craft with Birmingham sound-system Duke Alloy – the group had already aligned themselves to left-wing political ideals and forged their own identity, separate from the many punk and Two Tone outfits around at that time. The group had nailed their colours to the mast by naming themselves after an unemployment benefit form. Their political convictions hadn’t been gleaned secondhand either, but cemented in place whilst attending marches protesting against the National Front, or rallies organised by Rock Against Racism.

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Fancy A Drink? Get Your DIRTY LAUNDRY!

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With an entrance that begs a sense of nostalgia with a simple black gate, stairs leading underground, a large iron-cast door with a rectangular peep hole, call box, and the word “SEX” cut out of old copper metal with marquee bulbs screwed into its shape (some lit, some not … its all in the details) upon entry, you know this is not like any place you’ve ever been. You can feel this flood of heat rush over you as if your body understands that tonight, you get to revel in some much needed anonymity.

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WHY? and Serengeti

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In the highly fickle and competitive world of music, bands that may be “great” individually but sound similar to other artists in their genre bracket, there’s a good change they get lost in the static. It is those musicians that straddle genre lines, blending influences to create a sound all their own, that are not only making themselves memorable, but becoming essential to staying relevant to listeners’ eclectic tastes.

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Double Header of Talent: Shaun B and Orlando Napier at Harvelle’s

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He is a thin, handsome man in a striped shirt and jeans, sipping on Stella Artois and bobbing to the music–and I realize it’s the second headliner of the night, Orlando Napier–and since we are standing inches from the speakers, I flip into a blank page of my notebook and write “Break a leg up there” and hold it up to him. He smiles and shakes my hand twice before hopping on stage, embracing a glistening-with-sweat Shaun B. who concludes his set with supercharged covers of Stevie Wonder and The Turtles’ “Happy Together.”

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Stone and Sadie

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Sarah’s voice drips out into the microphone like honey, sweetening the deliciously dark lyrics of “Kiss the Cuts (Disco No. 6 for Charles Bukowski) as Jazzmin, Andrew and Anders moved in sequence with the pulse. Once the clapping quiets, Sarah announces that “Kiss the Cuts” and the tongue-in-cheek song “I’m Nobody’s Baby (& You Ain’t Nobody’s Fool)” are available to purchase on their official “double”, of which I highly recommend. That way, their finger snapping and toe tapping tunes can follow you home in entirety, instead of just a catchy chorus looping in your head.

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TOTSY the Band

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As someone with a mind that sees the world through the cinematic lens, one hopes for a band that will come along and showcase performance, originality, and something completely impossible to take your eyes off. That band is TOTSY. As if you’re watching Tim Burton in female form prance across a stage with the curiosity of a modern day artist like an Andy Warhol with the sex appeal of 1930’s Burlesque and Hollywood starlet, when you see TOTSY on stage in all of their splendor, you can’t help but gravitate towards the showmanship of their stage presence.

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Goat and Gnod

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This month is all about collectives. Bands are for squares. I mean why bother putting an ad for a bass player in your local rehearsal studio when you can recruit the entire town into your band and preside over it like a cult leader? – And – before you dismiss the whole idea and mutter something about the Polyphonic Spree, rest assured that the current trend of sprawling tribes of musicians are decidedly darker than before. Gone is the saccharine pop and gaggle of grinning misfits in robes…

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William Pilgrim

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But at the same time, I found it very therapeutic. Ish and Phil from William Pilgrim take songwriting and making music to its essence. It seems as if they do not do it for others, but still do to put their art out there for others to hear. Although it may sound selfish, their music is not selfish. They create it for themselves and for others at the same time; that is a truly non-selfish act. I listened to their album prior to the interview, and I listened to their album after the interview with a whole new perspective…

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Pato Banton

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To further honor his commitment to music and community, Pato was inducted into the Reggae Hall of Fame alongside UB40 and Steel Pulse in 2002. Despite all the achievements, Pato “constantly searches for the truth.” That search for truth led him to the Urantia Book. That is not to say that Pato was not a spiritual person prior to the Urantia Book, but the Urantia Book changed his life because he feels he has found the truth he seeks within the book. His spirituality reveals itself with each answer. And Pato does not hold back from answering any question posed to him…

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Shana Halligan

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Imagine a voice that stirs the very essence of song, incites so much emotion with a single note, embodies strength, sensuality, and sweetness, and writes some of the most exquisite songs I’ve ever heard. That is Shana Halligan. Introduced to her music 4 years ago, the minute I heard her I knew she was someone entirely authentic.

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Looking Back on Love – LENNY KRAVITZ

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Directed by Artist, Photographer, Producer, and Music Man, Mathieu Bitton, every shot is honest and gritty – no concealed perfections. Told in a fragmented voice that embraces the moments caught through the lens, the poetic narrative strung together by raw moments not only tell a story in a way that I find refreshing, Matthieu – an artist in his own right – propels us into a world both dynamic and real. He shows us the many sides of a man. A musical icon. A dreamer that captivates the gentle hum buzzing within us all – that need to find love in everything.

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Shana Halligan

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Before I introduce this in-studio performance, this one has to begin with a story. First, this is one of my favorite artists of ALL TIME. And I don’t say that lightly. SHANA HALLIGAN. I was first introduced to her music in 2010 while online searching for creative websites. A site had this music on there – sexy, melodic, sultry, playful, and incredibly writing worthy.

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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

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There is a ten foot marble man levitating on his side. There are Jimi Hendrix paintings on the wall.A hotel reception desk. A bistro and cathedral sized foyer. All of it is drowning under neon blue light, doing nothing to calm the red faced business men in the Cumberland Hotel, pacing around , babbling into their blue tooth devices. It’s taking its toll as I stare at the revolving door, waiting to talk with two thirds of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club about music, death, hope and the most difficult album of their fifteen year career.

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Sadie & the Blue Eyed Devils

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I’m a big fan of music that surprises me and the first time I learned of Sadie & The Blue Eyed Devils, I knew I was about to experience an entirely different sound. And it didn’t disappoint. Since then, I have become a BIG fan so it’s no surprise how excited I was to have them in the studio playing live for me and all of my listeners and viewers! With an interview and glimpse into what inspired the songs played in the studio, all I can say is – this band is all heart. Seriously. Beautiful, open, willing, and authentic.

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