A Truly Beautiful Mess

From the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway. This is quite possibly one of my favorite songs of 2008 let alone Jason Mraz‘s catalog. The power of the vocal performance combined with the orchestra provided for the perfect combination.

Buy We Sing, We Dance. We Steal Things Expanded Edition (2 CD/DVD): Amazon | iTunes

Links: Official Site | on Last.fm | on MySpace

All the Ways I Want You (A YouTube Debut)

While the wife and kids were away at a Saturday afternoon birthday party, dad got some peace & quiet. And when there’s tranquility in the house, I often pull out the guitar. Except this time, I pressed the record button. Lucky you!

I’m an amateur on the guitar, but I do enjoy playing. And one of the earliest songs I learned is an all- time favorite of mine: Bruce Cockburn’s “All the Ways I Want You”. Like I said on the YouTube page, I’m now one of “those guys”.

So what the hell, here it is…

Review: Jason Mraz at Radio City Music Hall

Mamma Mia, That'sa Spicy Mraz!

Despite listening to him since his days at Java Joes, Friday night was my first experience seeing Jason Mraz live. I was not alone in my first experience as it was Mr. A-Z’s first show at the legendary Radio City Music Hall, a that fact did not seem lost on him as he pulled out all the stops for what was one of the most entertaining and memorable shows I’ve attended in the last few years.

The evening started with Irish chanteuse Lisa Hannigan. I was really only familiar with her in the context of her work with Damien Rice and really enjoyed her solo set. With a 4 piece band of multi-instrumentalists to back her up, she performed a selection from her debut Sea Sew. “An Ocean and a Rock” was simply beautiful and captivating. “Lille” was delicate and lovely, which seems to be the essence of Miss Hannigan. I will definitely be picking up the record based on this performance.

After a brief intermission it was time for Mraz. The night started with the full 7 piece band taking the stage for “Make it Mine” the lead track from his latest release We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. Wasting no time, the band segued directly into a fresh (and lively) take on Mraz’s first hit “The Remedy”. This was the first of many times that the crowd would fill the hallowed hall with their voices in unison with Jason and he wasted no time in using it to his musical devices and creating a live mash up with the ladies singing the chorus and the boys (what few were in attendance) layering Oasis‘s hit “Wonderwall” over top to great effect.

The band slowly began to recede during “If It Kills Me” and a quiet “You & I Both” and whittled down to the core trio of Ian Sheridan, Toca Rivera and Mraz for the stark and utterly heartbreaking “A Beautiful Mess”. Sheridan even broke out the stand up bass for the occasion bringing to mind the small club feel and making this one of the moments that Jason managed to make Radio City seem like an intimate club for five minutes. This feel continued with the simple and lovely “Life Is Wonderful”.

The rest of the band returned as well as four additional microphones as the back drop took on a decidedly religious slant. It was clear that it was time to go to church! “Live High” came to a grand crescendo with the Broadway Inspirational Voices choir joining in to bring the house down. The choir stayed on for an uplifting rendition of “Oh! Happy Day”. I should mention here that over the band, the crowd, and the choir Jason maintained a presence and a quality of voice that was astounding.

“Dynamo of Volition” brought the crowd to it’s feet for some well choreographed dance moves. It’s interesting to see 5,000 happy fools raising the roof in unison at Radio City. The crowd stayed on its feet for the remainder of the show as Jason kicked into “I’m Yours” to a crowd ready to make a joyful sound. I’ll let the video do the talking on this one.

After and incredibly short encore break Mraz brought Lisa Hannigan back out to play Colbie Caillat’s part in the duet “Lucky” and from there it was non-stop from the rave up of  “Build Me Up, Buttercup” to the  beautiful finale of  “Song for a Friend” the significance of how grand a night it was long on nobody in the room. This was a perfect cap to the concert season and for my wife and I a beautiful way to celebrate our first year of marriage.

Pre-Order A Thousand Things: MusicToday

See the full setlist and the rest of the tour dates after the jump.

Continue reading “Review: Jason Mraz at Radio City Music Hall”

Garcia and Grisman – Sitting in Limbo

Just a random offering here, from my Grateful Dead Hour tape archives. David Grisman on mandolin, Jerry Garcia on acoustic guitar, and their blissful, laid back, powerful take on this Jimmy Cliff tune.

Buy the Soundtrack to Grateful Dawg, a film documenting the relationship between Garcia and Grisman, a friendship and musical collaboration that lasted from 1964 until Jerry’s passing in 1995:

Little Sea Horse

Non-parents may want to move on to the next post, ’cause this one’s a little ch-ch-cheesy.

I’ll make it short & sweet – my four year old daughter attended her first day of kindergarten today. I’m a proud papa, and I’m sort of blown away that I have a child who is now going to school. Seasoned parents are nodding their heads, while at the same time shaking them in a sort of “you have nooo idea what you have in store for you” way. It just keeps getting more and more interesting, folks, and I’m just underway…

Well, a couple of weeks ago, my girl had a sort of “graduation” ceremony at her YMCA preschool. Her class was referred to as the Sea Horses. As the Sea Horses shuffled through in a controlled-chaos single file to receive their cute little certificates, with their cute little caps on, I had this Bruce Cockburn song going through my head. It comes from a brilliant 1976 album called In the Falling Dark.

I count this and Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaw as two of my all time favorites. They soothe and calm me, and bring me to a good place when things seem a little jagged and confused.

The lyrics merit an appearance here (bolded by me):

Little seahorse
Swimming in a primal sea
Heartbeat like a
Leaf quaking in the breeze
I feel magic as coyote
In the middle of the moon-wild night

In the forge-fire time
Your mother glowed so bright
You were like a
Voice calling in the night
And I’m watching the curtain
Rising on a whole new set of dreams

The world is waiting
Like a Lake Superior gale
A locomotive
Racing along the rail.
It’ll sweep you away
But you know that you’re never alone

Little seahorse
Floating on a primal tide
Quickening like a
Spark in a haystack side
I already love you
And I don’t even know who you are

Nice eh? It’s enough to make a tough dad get a tad misty eyed. And that’s okay. Congrats kiddo – I have no earthly idea how I ever got along without you.

Bruce CockburnLittle Sea Horse (mp3)

Buy In the Falling Dark

To illustrate even further how much I love this album, here’s my favorite off the record:

Lord of the Starfields (mp3)

Jon and Roy

The Canadians keep comin’ hard with the quality tunes. Jon and Roy hail from Victoria, British Columbia. Their latest album is Another Noon – and it’s great. Warm, laid back, and inviting acoustic roots music.

They scored pretty big for an indie outfit by getting the title track on a new Volkswagen commercial (I think Wilco gave VW ads that instant indie cred). If you dig Citizen Cope or Jack Johnson’s vibe, definitely check out Another Noon.

The standout track for me after a couple of listens is “Oh Please”. It’s like drifting on a cloud. Close your eyes and escape for three and a half minutes.

Jon and RoyOh Please (mp3)

Official Site: http://www.jonandroy.ca

Buy Another Noon:

New Tunes: Jonny and Josh – Just Can’t Forget

I don’t cruise MySpace too much, but on one of my quick treks bouncing from page to page this week, catching up on some old friends, I came across a really great tune someone had streaming on their profile. It’s one of those songs that creeps up on you, and by a couple minutes in, you’re asking yourself, “Who is this?”

The song is “Just Can’t Forget” by Colorado duo Jonny and Josh. Based in Boulder, they spend their time playing for people up and down the Front Range. The song is a haunting, touching tune about that old standby, a love lost. The vocals have that rough edge I like – I hear Eddie Vedder and, may I say, Everlast – in a good way.

So take a listen, and check out their MySpace for some other quality tunes. These guys are unsigned, but if they keep churning out music like this, it won’t be for too much longer.

Jonny and JoshJust Can’t Forget (mp3)

Buy Stone Crack here for only $6.99.

Website: Jonny and Josh’s MySpace page

A Heavenly Day

There I was this past weekend, wrapping up a late Sunday afternoon car wash in the driveway (washing the hell out of my wife’s car due to the guilt of trading myself up for a new Honda Ridgeline – naughty, selfish husband!). I had the iTunes streaming down to the garage stereo (because I will perform no household or automotive task without background music – that would be silly).

As dusk set in, and I was pulling her car into the garage, this song came on. I sat silent for a few, taking in the song. I sighed in contentment, closed the garage door, and went on with my night. It was already a good weekend. Patty Griffin made it even better.

Patty Griffin – Heavenly Day (mp3)

Buy Children Running Through:

Thinking of You

Canadian Cam is back with a look at Toronto singer-songwriter Kim Jarrett… – Pete

Kim Jarrett writes excellent songs that showcase her outstanding voice. There’s nothing fancy or pretentious about the songs, or the voice, or Kim herself.

Kim received critical acclaim for her self-titled debut album. She still receives accolades for many of the tracks, in particular the opening number, “How Long”, as it comes pre-loaded on an mp3 player sold worldwide. This is an indication of Kim’s great universal appeal.

Kim is almost always busy performing live and hosting various open mic nights for singer-songwriters, road-testing her next batch of originals and revising old favourites with bassist, backup vocalist, partner and, now, producer Mike Costantino.

Thinking of You (2007) primarily features Kim on guitar/vocals and Mike on bass and backing vocals. The sound has been stripped down in comparison to the debut album, and I think it works extremely well with the songs that have been chosen. Guest appearances have been limited to a couple of ace guitarists: Tim Bovaconti (Ron Sexmith) contributes stellar electric guitar and pedal steel on many tracks, and Eric St-Laurent’s electric sounds great on two others.

Kim (and Mike) can reliably be found hosting an open mic night every Tuesday at the Liberty Bistro in Toronto. You never know who will show up to perform and listen to the varied performers!

Kim Jarrett – Everybody Pays (mp3)

Buy Thinking of You and check in at Kim’s web site (http://www.kimjarrett.com/). If you want to hear more, a few more new tunes (including Hypnotizing, possibly the catchiest on the album) are on her MySpace page.

Raul Midón – World Within a World

Soul cannot be manufactured, produced or processed; sold, bought, or processed (you get the point). Real soul is something you feel and something that Raul Midón has in spades. On his new record World Within a World he displays it with such abandon that it’s damned near heartbreaking. Blending pop, soul, jazz and touches of latin roots, Raul paints with his syncopated, flamenco- and jazz-infused approach to the guitar. His voice gives the impression of a man three times his age. It got more than a couple of spins on my iPod during the flights to and from Hawaii. If you are looking for neo-soul with a pop feel, pick this record up today.

Raul Midón – Pick somebody up (Windows) (Quicktime) (Real)

Buy: World Within a World

Link: Official Site | MySpace