ADDING CLASSICS TO YOUR LIFE

By Steve Rogers, Editor

Music is an influence in our lives, and I greatly appreciate the diversity of styles and artists performing today.

While I recall when many people wanted to download huge quantities of music and movies for free, I was always content to buy one song or album at a time from iTunes. Now I have a sizable collection that ranges from Apocalyptica to The Beatles to Yo Yo Ma.

Up front, the music on my no-fly list currently includes 95 percent of rap music. Don’t take me there, but if the artist cannot sing a compelling note, you won’t impress me. Beyond that, rock, jazz, country, pop, audiobooks, acapella, rockabilly, new age, classical, Cuban, Latin, soul, dance, reggae, Christian/gospel, blues and much more appeal to me.

I realize also that what I consider a classic may be crap to you. So listen carefully and critically with your ears, not mine.

The artists and albums I suggest are red hot to me because I grew up devouring music as a youth, including:

  • Soaking in every LP my dad played like: “Downtown” by Petula Clark
  • Every song on the radio like “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee
  • Every album my brother manage to play on dad’s stereo when no one was around like Wings Over America by Paul McCartney and Wings.

Hold your nose and open your ears. Image the best of these famed artists. And if you don’t know their best music, let me introduce them to you. For we all need inspiring music, original lyrics. Music is really about your heart, your hopes, your faith and your loves in this life.

  1. The ultimate cellist on Earth is Yo-Yo Ma. His work in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” mesmerized me some 16 years ago. No one plays with with such passion and precision. He plays classical music, but his creativity rises to the top on soundtracks. I was particularly pulled into his music when he teamed with famed composer Ennio Morricone to re-create the music from, among others, a spaghetti (Italian) western film featuring a young Clint Eastwood. Yes, I am referring to the 3+ hours of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, which features perhaps the best soundtrack ever by a western film.

    “JORGE HARADA…PLAYS LIKE ONLY ONE OTHER LEGEND HAS — AND THAT WAS STEVIE RAY VAUGHN.”

    Jorge-032013-05web (1)
    JORGE HARADA, 6-string Samurai

  2. My favorite guitarist today may not be on your list of standouts, but he is an old friend of many talents. He may not be the biggest man on stage among all-stars, but Jorge Harada of Ruby Dee and The Snakehandlers plays like only one other legend has — and that was Stevie Ray Vaughn. Jorge is a master guitarist and brings Stevie Ray back to the stage for me. He gives the reins to lead singer Ruby Dee on most nights because she commands the stage so well. But when Jorge steps up for a solo on their original compositions, each note strikes your heart and soul. Rockabilly is the band’s music genre, but this Austin-based band travels internationally because so many people love their music. Try their live album from Austin to get a feel for this band. The band is currently touring in Europe and killing it. Play one for me tonight, Jorge. The six-string Samurai can be visited at JorgeHarada.com, and the band’s website is RubyDeeMusic.com.
  3. On the country front, I’m still hooked on the young tenor Josh Turner. His hits range from “Long Black Train” to “Firecracker” to “Why Don’t We Just Dance.” And Josh’s voice reveals a deep tone that is nearly unmatched in the country music genre right now. This guy has a supremely bright future.
  4. For now, I will leave you with a young artist who was murdered after her concert on June 10, 2016. Christina Grimmie was only 22 when she passed, but her connections with Adam Levine, Selena Gomez and more than a million fans since her introduction to the music world in 2009 are eternal. She also starred in an endearing movie, The Matchbreaker. She finished third on The Voice in 2014, and that kicked off her tremendous growth. What allowed Christina to capture the hearts of millions was her thankful, sincere personality and her powerful, pure voice. While Christina released only a handful of albums and one movie, she and her family continue to change lives for the better with the Christina Grimmie Foundation. Donations and purchases can be made at ChristinaGrimmie.com.

More award-winning music later. Contact my friend Terry at UDPhotos@gmail.com when you are planning big events in your life. He has an amazing history as a photographer, and now he has new equipment too.

Make today legendary, friends!

2017 BEATLES REUNION WITH A SGT.

In June 1967, The Beatles already owned rock music and had captivated the ears and hearts of millions.

Of the four tremendous musicians in The Beatles, Paul McCartney and John Lennon had already penned more than 100 original songs to establish the Lennon-McCartney byline as the most successful singer-songwriter combination. The Beatles broke sales records, attendance records and dominated the scene even before appearing in America in February 1964.

But what the quartet released to the public in 1967 is still regarded by many as the ultimate musical album of all time. It further scared and perhaps scarred adults raised on Jimmy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra. After all, rock-n-roll was not accepted by the majority of those age 30+ at the time.

However the release on June 1, 1967 of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band altered the scene for musicians, fans, haters/doubters and lovers of swing music. This new theme album changed the music world and inspired greatness from future legendary artists like The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), Heart, Tom Petty and many others.

Led by Jeff Lynne, ELO released albums blending entire orchestras and classic rock guitars and drums. After The Beatle breakup, ELO became the one of a handful of rock groups that successfully created complex compositions involving string sections and a rock-n-roll beat.

Sgt. Pepper also influenced the legends of the day, pushing them to reach for greater heights in writing and performances. The Beach Boys, The Who, even Elvis, responded to the album that Sgt. Pepper and the boys used set a gold standard some 50 years ago today.

While many award-winning albums have arrived since then, listening to Sgt. Pepper again brings back smile as the album tells a connected story from one song to the next. It was a rare commodity then, and it remains the most challenging feat for a singer/songwriter to execute today.

Another key element to Sgt. Pepper that separated it from the hundreds of quality musical groups in the 1960s was the use of a vast series of instruments from around the globe. George Harrison had brought in sounds from Asia that America and probably European audiences were unfamiliar with.

The diverse, eclectic yet grand orchestration of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band can also be attributed to the grand master producer himself, the fifth Beatle, George Martin. Martin helped these four musical maestros present each song to its full impact, and Martin came from a classical music background.

His contribution earned him many titles and honors, but when Paul McCartney called Martin “a second father,” well, that is about as good as it gets in the music business. Martin was in the right place at the right time and signed the boys when other companies would not.

The rest was collaboration — and musical history that still rings true today.