Tag Archives: Music

Photos: Blue Ribbon Bastards, Mohawk Place, Buffalo, NY, Aug. 22, 2015

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Photographing Marty Stuart

As a music fan, I enjoy taking pictures of musicians.  Thankfully, Batavia has a fairly vibrant music scene and there are plenty of local bands I can go out and see and shoot.  But ever since taking up a camera … Continue reading

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My discovery of Morgan O’Kane

Morgan O'Kane

The first thing I did after checking into my hotel in Greenwich Village on Saturday (was there for the NYU Hyperlocal Conclave) was head over to Washington Square, which I know at one time was famous for its folk music (including Bob Dylan playing there for a time).  I didn’t know what I’d find, but it seemed like a good place to take make some photos.

Near the end of my hour or so in the park, I found this gentleman playing banjo under the Washington Arch. It only took a few bars to realize he was something special.

He is Morgan O’Kane, originally from Virginia, but a resident of New York for the past 11 years.  

I bought his latest CD and it is every bit as good as I hoped it would be.  O’Kane has a sound that is authentic to the kind of scratchy 78s Harry Smith compiled but with touch of grunge, giving O’Kane’s sound a very contemporary edge.  O’Kane is traditional without being pastiche.  That is an accomplishment that takes a heart and soul for the music and a real talent to pull it off.

See all of my photos of O’Kane on VuFindr.

Here’s a few of the videos of OK that can be found on YouTube and his web site.




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Louis Prima and Keely Smith: ‘Hey Boy! Hey Girl!’


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Buddy Blue Fest in La Mesa

I want to make sure all my friends in Southern California know about this … wish I could go. If you don’t know Buddy’s music, you can find several great free MP3s on his web site. RIP, my friend.

Buddy Blue poster Continue reading

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What web journalists can learn from Idol’s David Cook

If somebody had challenged me to write a blog post teaching journalists about online by using an American Idol contestant, I don’t think I would have even tried.

Shawn Smith just wrote a great post. He’s spot-on with his advice.

And if you didn’t watch Idol this week, you missed what may be the best performance in the entire series (rivaling  Fantasia’s “Summertime“)

[youtube QpX-kndqHnE nolink]

While I’m on an Idol post — Amanda, the female Elvis, the female singer Lisa Marie wishes she could be, should not have been voted off last week. Continue reading

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Newspapers and the Big Band era: A historical comparison

As newspapers struggle through a recession at a time of media tumult, Stowe Boyd writes:

The Big Band era is coming to an end, and while some oldsters are going to keep on listening to Count Basie and Duke Ellington, most of us are moving on to rock and roll. Many of the players will find new gigs, experiment with new musical forms, but some won’t. Some will retire, open bars, or find something else to do. Zell and Tierney may have to take their losses and find something else to invest in. David Carr may have to start blogging for the Huffington Post, or run for office.

His comparison with the death of the Big Band era is more apt than he states.

You could say Big Bands were killed by rock and roll, but that would really miss the point (and be at least a decade off the mark). Big Bands were killed as much as anything by hubris, greed and technological efficiency, not to mention changes in society’s musical taste and needs.

The musicians strike of the 1940s opened the door to smaller combos filled with non-union musicians. Not only where these combos more nimble, they were playing new kinds of music (such as country and rhythm and blues), driven by better technology for amplifying their music. By the time the strike ended in 1944, the new musical forms had not yet gained in popular demand, but the trajectory was set. Hank Williams would break through in 1947. Louis Jordan dominated R&B charts from the early 1940s through the end of the decade, setting the stage for the birth of Rock and Roll.

Of course, the oldsters who clung to the golden era of Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman saw no value in hick or race music. To them, it was all a fad whose time would pass. These wild sounds weren’t polished or sophisticated. This wasn’t quality music. The public would return to its senses and soon demand those big band sounds again. Sort of sounds like journalists attitudes toward bloggers, doesn’t it? (Interestingly, Goodman made a fine switch to small combo music, and he recorded some of the first jazz to feature lead guitar, employing the pioneer Charlie Christian).

Note that music didn’t die with the Big Bands, nor did it really diminish in quality. It fact, some of the greatest music of human history was created in the second half of the 20th Century. The music that came after was, to the discerning ear, no better nor worse than the stuff gathering dust on scratchy 78s. It was just different.

The same will be said of journalism fifty years hence.

For old-time sake, here’s Big Band music at its best: Goodman’s band playing the Louis Prima-penned, “Sing, Sing, Sing.”

[youtube 3mJ4dpNal_k nolink]

UPDATE: Ur, um, is this video really “Sing, Sing, Sing”?  Nobody’s called me on it, but upon reflection — the “Sing, Sing, Sing” melody is not any part of this performance.  What it does have is elements of “Christopher Columbus,”  which was incorporated into Goodman’s version of “Sing, Sing, Sing.”  But “Sing, Sing, Sing” was eight (studio version) to 12 minutes long (the famous “Live at Carnegie Hall” performance, which is without a doubt the single greatest achievement of recorded music history.  At least, I say so.  More here.

(Boyd link via Jack Lail) Continue reading

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CantonRep does good job with battle of the bands videos

Local music: It’s a logical avenue into reaching a younger audience. It helps reflect what’s really going on in the community you’re sworn to cover. It ads depth of coverage to your newspaper.com.

And who doesn’t love a good music video? I’ve long suspected that the reason many reporters get excited about shooting video is they’ve watched a lot of MTV.

But you don’t see many music videos on newspaper sites.

The reason is simple, really. To do music video well takes time, and lots of it, good equipment, and costs can add up quickly, as well as real talent.

What you’re really looking at is significant expense and time away from doing the core business of covering news.

Yeah, but wouldn’t it be fun to make a music video?

The Canton Repository (a GateHouse Media paper) found a great lo-fi approach. During the photo shoot for its upcoming Battle of the Bands (a competition open only to bands comprised of high school students), the Rep filmed band members milling about the newspaper building, and in the photo studio.

The results are simple, elegant and engaging. The keys to success are good editing and well-composed shots of kids aspiring to the spotlight. All the videos are a reminiscent of Hard Day’s Night.

Some of the music ain’t bad, either.

Here’s my favorite:

[youtube ZykpCuFCBT8 Ya Dig? by PJ & The Whistlers]

Ya Dig? by PJ & The Whistlers Continue reading

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Song release: Trouble and Turmoil

Long-time readers know that I’ve tried my hand at songwriting a few times, and have been audacious enough to torture those good readers by posting my MP3s on this blog.

I haven’t done it in a long time. I haven’t finished a song in a long time.

Coolness arrived with the new year, though. My friend Kevin Featherly liked one of my songs well enough to record it with his band.

Here it is: Trouble and Turmoil.

Credits: Bruce Featherly, vocals; Scott Maida, drums; Kevin Feathery, all other instruments, production and mixing; words and music by Howard Owens.

You can read the full story of “Trouble and Turmoil” on Back Channel. Continue reading

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Greatest Country Song: He Stopped Loving Her Today

A conversation with a friend reminded me of the George Jones classic, “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”  That got me poking around the web a bit.

I didn’t start listening to country music seriously until 1986 or so, and “He Stopped Loving Her Today” just seemed like one of those songs that had been around forever. All this time, I’ve just assumed it dated to the 1960s or early 1970s.  It has such a classic sound.

Actually, it dates from 1982, and Jones recorded the song even though he believed it too sad to ever become a hit (Wikipedia).

Many people believe, as I do, that it is the greatest country song ever.  It’s also a song, I believe, that nobody will ever sing as well as George Jones.

Here’s the video.

[youtube 7FkQO5VUx5A] Continue reading

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