My Favorite Records: Music From Big Pink by The Band 

Favorite Records 

This is complex. Depending on what time in my life, it changes, hence the plural, recordS. 

So I'll start with Music From Big Pink by The Band. 

This album came out in 1968. I probably learned of it in the mid 70s, in my teens. I found it among my brother's records, like many other favorites, but this was unlike any other records. I think the reason it still is one of my favorites is the quality of mystery in its lyrics, delivered in such an emotional vocal, with instrumental support that matches the lyrics' yearning and passion. The record starts with a song about a daughter leaving her family, recounted by a distraught father. Here's what Greil Marcus wrote about its beginning: 

"... the "famous beginning"—"We carried you/In our arms/On Independence Day"—evokes a naming ceremony not just for a child but also for a whole nation. ..the song is from the start a sermon and an elegy, a Kaddish." 

Another of my favorites that I have no idea of what it is about is Chest Fever. The interplay between Danko and Helm is so powerful, like they are singing for their lives. Garth's organ starts the song, and the band begins with a funky groove that doesn't quit.  

And Caldonia Mission is another I listen to and wonder every time what he's singing about.  

But all 16 songs are strong and compliment each other. And they all share the value of economy-there's not a wasted note on it. That economy is something that I strive for in my records, arrangements and performances. Words that matter, drums that leave space (create a groove) harmonies that are perfectly human, not chorally perfect. The horn arrangements are subtle, there are acoustic instruments that warm up the mix and the three vastly different lead singers each have a voice that are both singular and yet complimentary.  

When I saw The Band in 1976, I must admit I was surprised at how much they didn't sound like this record. It was all electric and loud and nothing like this record and the second, The Band. That's not to say I don't like The Band live, since another record on my list is Rock of Ages.  

Much better critiques of the record have been written, but I thought I'd share its influence on my writing, arrangements, recording and performing. It's one of my teachers, one of many and I am grateful that this was recorded and shared. 

Favorite Records 

I've been pretty lax about posting here and I'm now setting a goal to write more on this blog. I have tons of thoughts about music: what inspires me, questions for successful artists, favorite venues, running a band, guitar tones,  balancing music and family and job life, arranging and recording music, and so much more. I have no idea if there is an audience for this, but I'm endeavoring to write some of this down in order to articulate some of my thoughts and foster a dialogue, grow a community of people wanting to discuss this art. So, hope you enjoy reading. 

New CD Coming Soon! 

Vince Junior Band is very close to announcing our new release! It is in the final stages of mastering and artwork. Looking forward to sharing it with everyone at our release party which is in the works!

On Golden Rond 

Rod Murphy's band at the Get Down....great CD release party. check them out!
Check out their Video...

CD Release Party 

1To celebrate the new CD we will be having a show at Mo Daddy's on April 22, 5:30-7:30! Hope you can join Craig, Tommy, George and I for this special early show

The Black Keys and more 

One of my goals for this year was to get out and hear more live music. That was one of the reasons for moving to Asheville ten years ago. Well, the last two Thursday nights have been unbeatable...Last week it was the funky New Mastersounds at Pisgah Brewing. I thought there'd be a dozen or so people out was packed and the band was perfect...I felt like it could have been 1969 in a NY Club with Booker T or the Meters, but revved up quite a few notches. They really were new and different but deeply routed in music that is so familiar.....Then this week it was the Black Keys, who I was lucky enough to get a ticket for. Again, a band that did their homework about the equation of history of music + personal input usually = something new and real, at leat to me. Catchy, heavy riffs, booming drums, sweet singing, and drenching volume. They are a band that dispels the myth that rock and roll is dead. It is alive and well and real and relevant, at least to me.

Ghost Mountain Rhythm and Blues 

Every once in a blue moon, I am truly awed by a group of musicians performing. Last night I had the chance to hear a band at a pretty cool venue, Chameleon's soul Food on Merrimon Ave. Ghost Mountain played the real thing, not in a purist reenactment way at all. But an original yet familiar sound. The smell of cooking in Brian's kitchen added to the whole experience. According to Brian, they will be performing there each Friday. And the best part is they play from 8-11. Go check them out!

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