Sunday, May 20, 2007

Super Playlist

This morning, in the office, prepping for this afternoon's adult ensembles concert, I quickly threw together an eclectic pop mix - my morning soundtrack. No more than one track per artist, just picking tune that struck me as something I'd enjoy listening to/working to at that moment. This is one example of technology making entertainment easier. Here's the track list:

100 Years, Five for Fighting

One Week, Barenaked Ladies

Slave to Love, Bryan Ferry

Speed of Sound, Coldplay

Don't Dream It's Over, Crowded House

Friday I'm In Love, The Cure

Oh! You Pretty Things, David Bowie

Shores of California, Dresden Dolls

Barely Breathing, Duncan Sheik

Veronica, Elvis Costello

Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out, Eric Clapton

Criminal, Fiona Apple

Crazy, Gnarls Barkley

Feel Good Inc., Gorillaz

Catch the Sun, Jamie Cullum

Virtual Insanity, Jamiroquai

Curbside Prophet, Jason Mraz

Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley

Castles Made of Sand, Jimi Hendrix Experience

Running Up That Hill, Kate Bush

Sombody Told Me, The Killers

Steal My Sunshine, LEN

She Will Be Loved, Maroon 5

Grace Kelly, Mika

Dashboard, Modest Mouse

Just A Girl, No Doubt

Wonderwall, Oasis

Me, Paula Cole

Red Rain (Live), Peter Gabriel

See Emily Play, Pink Floyd

Wave of Mutilation, Pixies

Invisible Sun, The Police

Raspberry Beret, Prince

Pretty In Pink, The Psychadelic Furs

Somebody to Love, Queen

Losing My Religion, R.E.M

Everything in Its Right Place, Radiohead

Adia, Sarah McLachlan

Take Your Mama, Scissor Sisters

Crazy, Seal

Penquines E Pitbull, Seu Jorge

All I Wanna Do, Sheryl Crow

So Says I, The Shins

Don't You Forget About Me, Simple Minds

1979, The Smashing Pumpkins

True, Spandau Ballet

If I Ever Lose My Fait In You, Sting

And She Was, Talking Heads

Hold Me Now, Thompson Twins

Pretty Good Year, Tori Amos

With or Without You, U2

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

It's been a busy month!

This has been one of the busiest months of my life, with, thankfully, many ups and few downs. Students performed with Dan Zanes, I co-ran the annual Rotary Club Variety Show, I attended the Business Awards for the Arts, Katie and I saw Brandi Carlile at The Music Hall, Art Speak went before the city council for funding (which we received), and on, and on, and on....

The kids who played with Dan Zanes for two shows at The Music Hall on May 5th were amazing. Here they are on stage with Dan rehearsing in the early morning

Playing with Dan has a huge impact on the students. He just won the Grammy Award for best children's album - and he certainly deserved it. Talk about an artist who doesn't sing candy-coated schlock for the kiddos. He's genuine and the kids get it. Bravo Dan and thanks for making the kids feel at home and part of the band backstage!

Brandi Carlile was amazing. She opened her show with "The Times Are A Changing" - the sixties Dylan anthem, and other notable covers were Johnny Cash's Folsum Prison song (excuse me for not remembering the exact title) and Jeff Buckley's "Hallalujah". Katie and I got to meet her after the show and she's very sweet, humble, and deserves everything she's earned. Another big BRAVO!

And I also should thank the many amazing local performers who participated in the Portsmouth Rotary Club's Second Annual Variety Show at Portsmouth High School on May 6. Jose Duque's Zumbatres with Matt Langley, The Molenes, The Bow Tie Guys, Magician Pete Mamos, comedian Tom Clark, the PMAC Adult Flute Choir, professional silly person Todd Wellington, Tenley Westbrook, Tommy Hensel, Gordon Michaels, Wendell Purrington, Gina Connolly, the Seacoast Civic Dance Company, and of course, the Poo Poo Platters. The event was a hit.

So at this point in the month I'm reeling in exhaustion, though I have quite a ways to go before I rest. In fact, our next mini-vacation is scheduled for July 4th. Only three or four days, and it will be most needed.

Now we move on with this Saturday's Spring Fling at Little Harbour, plus three student recitals, Sunday's Adult Ensembles Concert, Departmental Workshops, Jumpin' in June, etc., etc., etc.!!!! What fun!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A night out on the town

Katie and I caught two great bands in Portsmouth last night at two of the city's most vibrant (and different) venues - The Press Room and The Red Door.

There is one question I find myself being asked an awful lot these days. It comes in many forms but basically boils down to the same thing: "Does Portsmouth have a healthy live music scene?" My experience is that the answer to this question has to do with who you are. Musicians, almost without exception, are concerned that the number of live performance venues is down, that the downtown neighborhood, with recent increases in residential units (condos), has become more and more unfriendly to the local music scene, and that it is harder for local bands to get booked in the remaining venues, particularly the larger venues. Non-musicians speak fondly of the thriving music scene, that no matter what night, there is somewhere to go, with something good to hear.

Though the Portsmouth music scene is not without its problems, I think the non-musicians may have a better perspective on the whole. We sometimes forget that this is a small community, only 20,000 strong. It may be unrealistic to expect the cultural climate of much larger cities. In fact, I would bet that Portsmouth outdoes most American communities twice its size in the area of live music. Does that qualify the climate as healthy? Maybe not. But it lessens the impact of doom and gloom statements about the scene.

I'm going to spend some more time thinking about this and maybe write more on it in the future. I hate to jump to conclusions on it. And I want to have a good answer the next time I'm asked (most recently it was by a reporter from Foster's newspaper at the RPM Challenge listening party).

In the meantime, I continue to make every effort to get out and hear local music. Last night was a great opportunity as two bands I'm very familiar with were performing. First, Katie and I went to The Press Room to hear Jose Duque's Zumbatres with Jose leading the way on the drums, Nate Therrien on bass and Mike Effenberger filling in on keys. About halfway through the second set they were joined by saxophonist Matt Langley. Needless to say, I know these musicians well - all four teach at PMAC. But it was the first time I'd had the opportunity to hear them play in this combination. The house was full, attentitive and very appreciative, with applause recognizing every solo. And the set I was there for was very strong (as I assume the whole evening was). I consider it a great thing that The Press Room still holds true to it's seven-day-a-week live music promise. If you've not heard Zumbatres, check them out. They are a mainstay of the local jazz scene.

We did leave a little early though, to catch an up and coming group on the local scene. The Molenes were nominated in the Roots Rock category at last week's Spotlight Awards, and though it went to veterans Pondering Judd, The Molenes were just as deserving. Lead singer Dave Hunter looks the part - he could give Chris Issak a run for his money. The group is tight, and had the friendly demeanor of a house band in the intimate confines of The Red Door, which was as packed as The Press Room - a vitality sign. Live music is alive and well in Portsmouth. It was late for Katie and I, though the band was just getting going, so we only stayed for a few tunes, said our hellos to friends, and quickly retired home. But I have a renewed interest in getting out, particularly on Mondays, when these two venues regularly feature local live acts. So if you question the scene - when was the last time you were at either venue on a Monday? If you haven't been, either ever or lately, it's time to check it out.