Friday, May 28, 2010

Bettye Lavette | Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook

The only thing better than hearing Bettye LaVette sing on her new CD "Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook" is seeing the "satisfied n' tickled, too" expression on her face on the album cover. "The Great Lady of Soul" seems to be full of joy and a sense of accomplishment as this CD, one of the most nuanced and deeply delivered albums of song interpretations ever, makes it way out to the world.

Bettye's unwavering commitment to every song resonates like the truest love and her life experience seems to be crystallized in every note. She takes it seriously, this stepping out with The Beatles, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd and Elton John, and her success is due in great part to her not being daunted by the task and taking fearless leaps. R&B, Blues, and Soul influenced British rockers and now it comes full circle with the one of soul music's greats bringing it home.

Robert Plant has invited her to join him on his tour in late July.

Listen tonight to mvyradio's Uncharted Waters at 9 PM ET (repeated Sunday at 9PM) as I feature a few tracks from the CD.


Friday, May 21, 2010

The Tallest Man On Earth | The Wild Hunt

So much of what we experience about another person is their presence. Presence --a great word for what it is that captures us about someone. Their ability to be be present, at ease, claim the space, or not. There are a lot of ways to make a lasting impression and often there's a certain je ne sais quoi, literally a "I don't know that" quality.

I can identify much of what impresses me about singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson, a.k.a. The Tallest Man On Earth on his new CD "The Wild Hunt". His confidence, his simple, potent guitar playing, his incisive lyrics. But what is most striking to me is his ability to command the energy of the album from start to finish. The way he carries the flow feels a little like a magic trick, and after each listen, I found myself captivated again. Maybe it's just his confidence, but it seems like more than that. Je ne sais quoi...

I'll feature some tracks from "The Wild Hunt" tonight on mvyradio's Uncharted Waters at 9PM ET.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Martin Sexton | Sugarcoating

There's so much to love about Martin Sexton's music. Perfection, vulnerability, spontaneity, joy, questioning, wonder. But the top note, the deepest experience, is connection. He opens himself to the stirrings of his heart and to the intimate artistic process of bringing his life to music, and we're invited in. Such a gift!

"Sugarcoating" is Martin's new CD, his ninth. Beautifully realized songs with great players bringing each one home. Guitarist Duke Levine, one of Boston's finest, plays a key role, as does another Boston legend, producer, musician, songwriter Crit Harmon, who co-produced the album with Martin and co-wrote one of the songs. Dan MacKenzie co-wrote 10 of the 13 songs. Dave Mattucks is on drums and minnow bucket. I experienced the minnow bucket first hand when Dave played with Martin in a Louisville hotel suite for one of Martin's many mvyradio on-air appearances, the one where Martin so loved the guitar we had rented from a local music store, that he bought it.

Martin does the bulk of the back-up vocal work using his unique "character" approach --"cowboy vocals" on "Sugarcoating", a poignant take on post 9/11 America and "choir vocals" on "Always Got Away", a stunning song about impermanence, lessons learned anew, and love that lasts. The sequencing is perfect, giving the record a wonderful flow. So much skill, restraint and hard-won musical prowess. This is a watershed record for Martin Sexton.

I'll feature a few tracks from "Sugarcoating" tonight on mvyradio's Uncharted Waters at 9 PM ET on


Friday, May 7, 2010

Trombone Shorty | Backatown

Supafunkrock. That's how Troy 'Trombone Shorty' Andrews describes his music. If anybody deserves a new word to characterize his music, it's Trombone Shorty. Along with his band Orleans Avenue, made up in part of childhood friends, he is creating an original sound born out of the musical traditions of his hometown of New Orleans. Andrews grew up in the Treme in the 6th Ward, the oldest black neighborhood in the U.S., and the fun music and dancing he experienced as a kid, and the showmanship he developed as a street performer, is the basis of his no holds barred approach.

Lenny Kravitz, Marc Broussard and Allen Touissant contribute, and Ryan Montbleau co-wrote two of the songs on the CD. Kravitz took a chance on an 18 year old Troy Andrews (he's now 24) and brought him out on tour with him in 2004. "Playing with that band was like Kobe Bryant going straight from high school to the pros," Andrews' sister told him. The experience of playing with Kravitz was pivotal, with Andrews having to learn "20 years of music" and watching Kravitz hold huge audiences in the palm of his hand.

"I'm his biggest fan," says jazz legend Wynton Marsalis. Add me to the long (second) line!

Trombone Shorty is the featured artist on mvyradio's new music show, Uncharted Waters at 9PM ET.