Greetings friends and music lovers-
you're having a wonderful holiday season. I have had a bunch of fun seeing some
great shows, playing some myself, and cruising youtube for today's christmas music
tour below. Happy holidays to all of you. I hope you have much to celebrate. Here's
this month's index-
The Gift of Music in the Movies-
Surf and Twang-
My Turn To Play-
Gift of Music in the Movies-
I have seen some fun music themed movies
lately that would make for some great holiday fun. Some of these are available to
buy, I'm sure, but you could also make a date with netflix and one or several good
friends. How about a nice card inviting folks to your house (or inviting yourself
to someone's house who has a subscription)? Provide or pot-luck some awesome snacks
and favorite beverages, and watch a movie together. This type of an invite could
stretch the holiday season into January (or beyond) and provide some quality time
with loved ones after the hectic time has passed. Here is a list of cool music movies
that I recommend, with links to their trailers.
Calvin and I recently saw a movie written and produced by Tom Hanks called
That Thing You Do. It's about a band that goes from winning the high school talent
competition to becoming rock stars in a very short time. The music is excellent,
and the actors themselves actually took up their instruments for the movie. They
got pretty good and the settings and story are an excellent representation of the
early sixties when the story takes place. Lots of well thought out details and great
character development. Here is the scene
when the band first hears their song on the radio, and they all congregate at the appliance store where the drummer works for
his dad. It is absolutely jubilant. The whole movie has this much charm, fun and
When I was in Ann Arbor,
Michigan last September, My friend Judi took me to see a movie that she absolutely
loved. A true story called Searching For
Sugar Man, is about a Detroit musician
called Rodriguez, who made a record in the early 70's. His songs, singing and playing
were great, but for whatever collection of reasons, it didn't sell well in the US.
Rodriguez went back to doing general labor type work and set aside his ambition
to be a singer. Meanwhile, a bootleg version of his record ended up playing a central
role in the apartheid movement amongst young white South Africans who embraced it
as the soundtrack of their ambitions for freedom. Despite rumors that Rodriguez
had committed suicide, two South African fans were able to track him down and bring
him to their country to play for tens of thousands in packed houses. I am getting
choked up just writing about this because it is so powerfully portrayed. This guy
had great songs and was a good singer as well, but he was and remained incredibly
humble, giving most of the money he made from the concerts to family and friends.
If you would like to feel a real connection with the best in humanity, this movie
will take you there. Believe me, it is definitely worth seeing.
Another movie centered around music is Crazy Heart with Jeff Bridges. This one is both sweet and a bit melancholy.
The music and the acting are great, and the story is good and pretty true to life
even though it is fictional. Jeff plays a country singer who battles the demons
of alcohol and the wear of life on the road. It has many charming moments and a
hopeful ending. I enjoyed it. Jeff put a band together and made an album of the
songs. I saw them on the Colbert Report last year. Fun interview and good music.
Surf and Twang-
This month I am taking you on
a youtube tour of some rocking christmas music. I found a lot of cool stuff while
I was looking for something seasonal for this newsletter, and I will be posting
some of the other songs on my fb music page this week, so check there for some Ray
Charles, Louie Armstrong, and other fun. Here are a few selections to get you into
the twangy christmas spirit. Let's start with a classic Elvis tune- Santa Bring My
Baby Back to Me (forgive the tacky slide
show). This next one popped up in the youtube suggestions after a bunch of looking.
Del Reeves Twistin
Santa Clause That's a slippery surfin
groove for ya. Love it. That led Calvin to recommend this one from Buck Owens- Santa Looked A
Lot Like Daddy (and Daddy Looked
a Lot Like Him). I found some more recent stuff including this excellent number
from one of my favorite country bands in the 90s- BR549. You may recognize their
name as the phone number for Junior Samples Used Car Dealer on Hee Haw. These guys
really inspired me when they were playing regularly. I saw them at the Cat's Cradle
in Carrboro, NC. Here they are playing Daddy's Drinkin'
Up Our Christmas with the great Marty
Stuart sittin' in on a mando-telecaster. I found Ruthie and the Wranglers on Myspace
(haha remember that?) years ago, and then kinda forgot about them. I was about to
think I had enough links to work with, when on a whim, I decided to try listening
to one more. I was intrigued by the name- It'll Be a Rockin'
Christmas This Year. Low and behold, it
turned out to be a great tune. I need to dig up more from Ruthie. Wonder what she's
doing these days.
of great country twang from some more recent bands, I'd like to give a shout out
to my friends The Sweetback Sisters, who have a new Christmas record out this year.
I first heard about them from an old time musician friend. When they played for
the Fiddle and Bow Music society in Winston a few years back, they ended up needing
a bass player at the last minute, since their guy had accidently double booked himself.
Another friend sent them to Calvin, and they spent that afternoon at our house running
all the tunes for the show, which he aced. They are fronted by two excellent singers
who can, among other things, nail some Davis Sisters harmony. I realized I had heard
them before when they got third place in the Talented Twenty Somethings competition
on A Prairie Home Companion (PRI). They have since travelled the world and have
become a super excellent band. Check out their website www.thesweetbacksisters.com where you'll
find a great video with their rendition of Santa Clause Is Coming To Town. They
have been doing shows for the last three years that they call their Country Christmas
Singalong Extravaganza, and now they have a CD of the same name. I highly recommend
My Turn To Play-
As I said earlier, I've had the opportunity to hear some great music
lately, and to participate in some as well. I went down to Charlotte with a bunch
of friends for a solo show from Keb Mo. If you haven't had the chance to see or
hear him, you've been missin' out. Excellent songs, singing and playing. I have
also gone out to see my friends Tin Can Alley, who play old school r&b and soul
music regularly around the triad area. It is always fun to sit in and sing some
of that kind of material. Keep your eye out for them. Calvin plays bass, they all
three sing, and the drum kit includes a galvanized trash can. Calvin and I played
a little show this past week for some kids who come from troubled home situations
and end up residing at the Children's Home in Winston Salem. My friend Liza teaches
art classes there and pulled together a nice little christmas event for them. It
was probably the first time they ever heard live music. Actually, it was the second
time for some of them. Cal and I played there last year as well. It was really fun
and much appreciated.
be playing a Mystery Hillbillies trio show this Saturday at J Butler's in Lewisville.
Scott Williams will be playing guitar and I will have Roger Kohrs on bass. Our rehearsal
was really fun and I am looking forward to pulling out a couple of my favorite christmas
songs. Roger has a baby boy named Rock, and at one of our rehearsals he had woken
up from his nap and was hanging out in the playpen next to us. He was about to start
fussing when I cranked up the guitar intro to the Wanda Jackson tune Let's Have
a Party. He grabbed the side of the play pen and just danced through the whole thing.
It was soooo freakin cute. I hope some of you will come out and dance to some rockabilly
this Saturday. It's gonna be fun. We play working people's hours- 8-11. So finish
up your day of shopping and come have some dinner and your favorite beverage.
I will be back at the Blue Note Grill
on Thursday Jan 31st with Fj Ventre and John Worthington. That is an early show,
as well. We kick off at 7. We also just booked a wedding in Feburary for some of
our old Fisher's Grill fans. If you are looking for a different kind of band for
your wedding or party, keep us in mind.
I hope you all have a wonderful
rest of the year and that 2013 brings even more fun. Thanks, as always, for supporting
live music. Michelle
White Queen Caladium
"Michelle, I love to come hear you play because I can pretend I'm you and it
makes me feel sassy" Tami Reichert, Mystery Hillbillies fan quotes
think of the word "bad-ass" when I think of you. Confident, talented, cool, humorous,
skilled ...bad-ass!" Anastasia Mattox, Mystery Hillbillies fan quotes
Mystery Hillbillies opened the show with a barn burning set of tightly focused,
three-piece high-lighted by Michelle Belanger’s lived-in vocals. Hillbillies
regular Calvin Johnson on the upright came the closest to Americana, easing the
crowd into the evening connecting the mountain pickers to urban hot-rodders in a
tactile way. The addition of a drummer and electric guitar brought on the Memphis
and allowed their set to bridge that gap from the Carter Family Fold in Virginia
to Johnny’s electrified Nashville career. Belanger’s stage presence
and singing are warm, like sitting on a porch and listening to her croon over a
chorus of crickets." Chad Nance, Camel City Dispatch
WIDGETS (Put our stuff on your web pages and blogs!)