All posts filed under “Music

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Paul Simon – a true master

Whether or not you like Paul Simon’s music, I think everyone can agree he’s a hugely accomplished musician, songwriter, and performer.  I still can’t believe it’s been 25 years since his legendary album “Graceland” was completed.

But what made him a real legend in my eyes was the news about a concert last month in Canada.  In between a couple of songs, some people in the audience cried out asking him to play “Duncan”, a song from an album he released in 1972.  He agreed to, even though he was throwing his setlist out the window.  But then the most amazing thing happened.

A woman right up front yelled out that she had learned to play guitar by playing “Duncan.”  Paul Simon motioned for her to come up on stage.  The next thing you know, he was not only throwing his setlist out the window, but putting his guitar in her hands!  She played the entire song, right up front, on Paul Simon’s guitar.  And of course, it was all caught on YouTube:

Paul Simon has to be a true legend and gentleman to stand back and give a completely unknown fan the spotlight.  A real heartwarming experience, and I’m just glad it was caught on video so the rest of us could enjoy it, too!

[more on the CBC, which has an interview with Rayna, the woman in the video]

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Fun new video from the Rural Alberta Advantage

So I’ve become a huge fan of the Rural Alberta Advantage.  (You can check out my post about their London concert here.)  They’ve got a new album coming out on Tuesday, March 1st: “Departed.”

They played a couple of tracks from their new album at their concert, and they were great.  (It can be hard to get an audience into new songs they’re hearing for the first time live, but they did it.)  The band has just released their first official video from the new album, for the track “Stamp.”  It’s pretty cool; take 3 minutes and check it out here!

You can also pre-order their album (and posters/t-shirts) directly from Saddle Creek Records here.  If you liked the video you can download the “Stamp” MP3 too!

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Living and loving live music – thanks to Songkick!

Yesterday I saw The National in concert, and it was absolutely awesome. It was the first of a string of four concerts I’m going to in the next few weeks. I’m seeing The National, Arcade Fire, The New Pornographers (with Neko Case!) and Kings of Leon.

But I would never have known about all of these shows or gotten tickets without Songkick. If you are interested in live music AT ALL, you need to do yourself a favor and register with Songkick TODAY. It takes a minute to register, and another couple of minutes to hook Songkick up to your iTunes library, last.fm profile or Pandora profile. Three minutes after starting, you’ll start seeing e-mails from Songkick when the bands that you like are coming to your city… before tickets go on sale.

There are very few sites on the internet I’m truly passionate about, and Songkick is one of them. Otherwise, I would have never been able to see this kick-ass final encore song from The National last night… done completely unplugged in a crowd of 5000 people. Amazing…

Links to specific shows, etc.:
The National last night
Arcade Fire tomorrow night
The New Pornographers next week
Kings of Leon just before Christmas
My profile (you can “track” me to see what concerts I’m going to)
My “gigography”: all the shows I’ve been to since my very first concert in 1994 (Pink Floyd!)

PS – Songkick is a London-based startup, and a Y Combinator startup, so they’ve got a very bright future ahead of them.

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The Rural Alberta Advantage (special thanks to Songkick)

A couple weeks ago I became a die-hard fan of an awesome Canadian band: The Rural Alberta Advantage. How did it happen? I heard that they were playing in London, thanks to Songkick, and it was simply a brilliant show. You should all buy their album NOW.

The Rural Alberta Advantage

I first heard of them on Fred Wilson’s blog: AVC.com. (If you haven’t heard of him, Fred is a famous venture capitalist who blogs on startups, venture capital and music.) The band ended up hearing about making his top records of 2008 list, and ended up inviting him to a show in New York, which sounded awesome. Links to his posts here:
http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2008/12/top-10-records.html
http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2009/01/the-joys-of-mus.html
http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2009/01/the-avc-music-meetup.html
http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2009/06/kickstarting-a-7.html

So when I heard they were going to be in town, I bought tickets, and put their album into heavy rotation the week or so beforehand to really get a sense of what they were about. The album was really good, but that doesn’t mean they were great live.

Well, it was a tiny club where I saw them, and the band is only three people, but they completely filled up the room with their sound and energy. Each song was different and distinctive, partly because the singer (Nils) explained briefly some of the more obscure Canadian stories and landmarks that are behind the songs. (ie, a tragic landslide that buried Frank, AB; the lyrics then make more sense and the song has a lot more soul.)

I find it tough to explain how awesome it is to see a great band in a small venue. But I did find a few videos on YouTube that have decent sound, so I posted them here so you can check them out.

Frank, AB

Edmonton

Eye of the Tiger

Please, go and buy The Rural Alberta Advantage’s album “Hometowns” NOW. (Click here for Amazon MP3 link.)

Songkick

I’d be remiss in this story if I didn’t tell you about Songkick. I’ve been a member since they were just coming out of beta. If you love seeing live music, don’t walk but RUN to register on Songkick.

Seriously… do it now.

It’s simple, but brutally awesome. You tell it what music you like and listen to (either through connecting it to iTunes or selecting manually), and then Songkick lets you know when those bands are going to be in your city. Most importantly, they only tell you about the bands you’re interested, and they tell you before tickets go on sale.

Before Songkick I had to subscribe to a bunch of mailing lists just so I had a *chance* of hearing about when bands I like were coming to town, let alone getting tickets. Now I just check my e-mail, figure out what I’m going to and when tickets go on sale, and GO.

Plus, for live music nerds like me there’s stuff like setlist archives, photos, videos and a whole bunch of other stuff for each concert that people can upload. You can also learn more about specific venues, specific bands, festivals and more.

If you want to see what I uploaded and wrote about The Rural Alberta Advantage concert above, just check out this link and explore Songkick:

http://www.songkick.com/concerts/4417566-rural-alberta-advantage-at-lexington