The loss of Michael Jackson this week, and thinking about all the great music the man made before succumbing to the weirdness of the megapopstar life, coincided for me with another event–getting my old Lego sets down out of the attic for my own kids to play with. So it is with that nostalgic frame of mind that I present my favorite MJ video making the rounds–a fully animated Lego version of the “Thriller” video:
So, with South America making the news this week for all the wrong reasons (the Argentina mistress of our dirtbag South Carolina Governor), here’s a great new clip of a song from Madera, a self-proclaimed “Alt-Country” band from Uruguay, of all places. It’s actually pretty good stuff, kind of like a spanish language Blue Rodeo.
There are a number of young instrumentalists in the fringes of bluegrass and new acoustic music who are reinventing the genre to their own liking, from Noam Pikelny to Matt Flinner, Chris Thile, and more; add Infamous Stringdusters co-founder Chris Pandolfi to the list with his second solo disc The Looking Glass, out now on Sugar Hill Records.
Without lyrics to catch a listener’s ear, the melody reigns supreme in instrumental music–just ask those sixties surf-rockers like The Ventures. Pandolfi’s chosen instrument, the banjo, at first may not seem that fitting of a vehicle for classic melodies, but just listen to the tone he achieves and the tunes he comes up with here.
Pandolfi’s compositional style varies from a more Bela Fleck-like style of acoustic improv featuring fast waterfalls of notes to a nearly classical frame of reference where the melodic themes repeat again and again in Mozart or Bach fashion. Regardless of the foundation, Pandolfi has managed to put forth the kind of instrumental album one can listen to not as background music but as a fully engaged participant in the cascading sounds coming forth from the players–in addition to Pandolfi, the disc’s pickers include Matt Flinner, Byron House, Stuart Duncan, , Jesse Cobb, Eric Thorin, and fellow Stringdusters Andy Hall and Jeremy Garrett.
check out some of the tunes here:
Chris Pandolfi Myspace
The specifics are in the link above, but if you think you’ve never heard of Barry Beckett, I can promise that you’ve probably heard him. For a pretty good listing of his production work and the countless albums he appeared on as a keyboard player, check out discogs.com.
Beckett played on many of rock, country, and soul’s most important records as one of the “Swampers”, the Muscle Shoals rhythm section. Checking out his discography is like getting a history lesson in pop music from the last fifty years, and he’s played with everyone from Bob Dylan to Tony Orlando.
You can find lots of clips online which feature Beckett in some manner, but here’s a nice one just posted as a tribute to him: