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Come Blow Your Horn

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This article was first published on November 4, 2010. It's been updated and reposted today with its original comments.      Almost seventy years after rock 'n roll revolutionized popular music there isn't a whole lot of excitement left in the classic guitar-bass-drums-piano formula popularized by Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and a host of other pioneers. I still love rock music but many times when I crave more than what the basic rock band lineup has to offer I start searching for something a little more substantial, and often I’ll find what I’m looking for in bands with horn sections. Horn bands can make some colorful music so it's a shame there aren't more of them. Is it because fledgling artists can't absorb the additional expenses of a larger group without promoters shelling out more cash to compensate them? Are many of the small clubs that new artists depend on for gigs not big enough to house

Various Artists - Where Music Meets Film: Live From Sundance Film Festival (1999)

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To celebrate the relationship between music and movies Starbucks Coffee, Sundance Channel and BMG Music jointly opened a coffeehouse in an old Elk's lodge in Park City, UT, the town that annually hosts Robert Redford's renowned festival featuring new, independent films. Where Music Meets Film: Live from the Sundance Film Festival is a 1999 soundtrack CD with fifteen songs from the gala's after hours, live music shows. While none of these songs were written or performed specifically for films they were released as part of a made for TV documentary. A portion of the profits were donated to the non-profit Sundance Composer's Lab. The disc's liner notes get right to the point. "From silent film to contemporary cinema, music has always been part of the movie experience. It enhances the story and helps set the mood of the film." The CD features a few established stars - John Hiatt, Lyle Lovett, and

The Mike Jacoby Electric Trio - Rocket Fuel Logic (2024)

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With Rocket Fuel Logic ,  The Mike Jacoby Electric Trio are back with their second album of Americana flavored rock and roll, and it has better songwriting, more hooks and better vocals than last year's debut, The Long Haul .  Leader Mike Jacoby says he is mostly inspired by classic rock, but you can hear more recent influences all over this fine ten song set, especially Old 97s on the opening track, "There Oughta Be A Law." The band's new rocking record includes a variety of subjects, and even when Jacoby works with that timeless and mostly overused and abused topic of male-female relationships he adds a unique spin to his songs. In most cases lyrics are important to a song, but your "sound" has to resonate with me first. If it doesn't, it won't matter how good your storytelling is because I won't be listening. Lead singer and guitarist Jacoby, bassist Dan Read and drummer Mike Levin play vibrant rock that easily con

Almost Hits: Dire Straits - Lady Writer (1979)

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"Sultans of Swing," the first single released by Dire Straits in 1978 climbed all the way to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was a unique song that helped me become the huge Dire Straits/Mark Knopfler fan that I am today. The following year, the original quartet - composer, singer and lead axeman Knopfler; his brother and second guitarist, David Knopfler; bassist John Ilsley; and drummer Pick Withers - released their sophomore LP,  CommuniquĂ© . It sounded so much like the group's eponymous debut that I believed they shouldn't have bothered.  In other words, it was all filler, no killer. "Lady Writer," the album's lead single, felt like it was an exact clone of "Sultans." Perhaps that is why it only peaked at #45 even though today radio plays it almost as often as its superior predecessor. A now defunct English music magazine, Smash Hits , was brutal in its assessment of the song.  "Look, the only way you'll wa

Owen Elliot-Kugell - My Mama, Cass (2024)

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Back in the mid-60s when I first listened to top 40 radio I considered The Mamas and The Papas the greatest vocal group I ever heard. I never tire of listening to "California Dreamin'," "Dedicated to the One I Love," "Twelve Thirty," "I Call Your Name," and a lot of their other wonderful songs. Cass Elliot  (born Ellen Naomi Cohen in 1941) was my favorite female singer for a long time, so I was immediately interested in My Mama, Cass , the new memoir written by her daughter, Owen Elliot-Kugell. The star's life story is told in the first half of the book and the more interesting chapters are found there. The second half is mostly about Elliot-Kugell's life and how her mother's early death from a heart attack in 1974 at age thirty-two when the author was only seven years old (She's now fifty-six) affects her life even today. Elliot's family tree is discussed, so are her formative years as a sing

Al Jolson - The Decca Years 1945 -1950 (2019)

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I haven't really stolen an idea from long-time fellow blogger, Jeff Ash, who publishes  AM, Then FM , but his recent post,  My Heart Belongs To Dad's Records , convinced me to go ahead with a similar post that has been bouncing around in my brain recently. Thanks, Jeff. My childhood interest in music can be attributed to my mother who would have turned 101 earlier this year. She bought my sister and me a lot of kiddie 45 RPM records, many of them on the Golden, Disney and Cricket record labels. Among my earliest memories of listening to music for adults were playing my Mom's 78 RPM records on my portable record player. Even when I was eight years old I thought a lot of her music sounded cheesy and dated, but I took a liking to her Glenn Miller, Harry James, Bing Crosby and Al Jolson records. Miller and James sparked any interest in jazz that I have today, and we all know that Crosby was - and continues to be - a legend, especially at Chri

Cullen Brian Gallagher - Cullen Brian Gallagher (2024)

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Cullen Brian Gallagher is a country music newcomer from New York with a very pleasing voice whose eponymously named debut album sounds like it came from a seasoned veteran.  It's an inspired collection loaded with substance. Gallagher's extremely laid-back, twelve-song set of original tunes features the star playing his Gibson acoustic guitar, electric lead, and bass. He's the only musician on the sparsely arranged set. Gallagher is heavily influenced by Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, two artists who always keep it simple and that's what makes this record so good. There is nothing flashy, and every note played is in service to the songs. Gallagher's songwriting is pure country. It's full of bus rides, too many evenings spent at local bars and women he wants to be with but isn't. Song titles like "Tanked at Hank's," "I Can't Sleep Alon

Paul Simon - The Paul Simon Songbook (1965)

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Paul Simon 's first solo album, The Paul Simon Songbook , has an interesting backstory, but first let me give you my overview of his career. Even though Simon has never been deified like Bob Dylan, the Queens, NY native has always occupied an exalted place in the halls of popular music. While more people hold Dylan in higher regard it can be said that Simon has been the more eclectic composer of the two. He's explored alternative genres that the Bard of Minnesota has never touched. Dylan's excursions into country music don't wander very far from folk-rock and his cover versions of the Great American Songbook are discounted because he has never written in that vein. Simon has taken full album deep-dives into South African music on Graceland and Brazilian themes on his follow up, Rhythm of the Saints . He wrote gospel influenced works, music for Broadway, and on his most recent release, 2023's Seven Psalms , he blended seven songs tog