Originally posted 12th February 2014
Of course, this past Sunday was the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ historic American performance debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. As someone who has been a Beatles fan for more than 20 years, I can honestly tell you that these four guys from Liverpool have been amongst my biggest inspirations as a singer/songwriter. My favourite songs by the Beatles include Hello Goodbye, Hey Jude, and I Feel Fine to name a few examples.
CBS broadcast a Grammys tribute to the Beatles last Sunday night, and while it may have brought back a lot of great memories of crushing on John, Paul, George, and Ringo for a lot of the women who were young girls 50 years ago, for me, the show featured a lot of fab (no pun intended) performances, ranging from Maroon 5’s show-opening performance of All My Lovin’ to the last two surviving Beatles’ closeout rendition of the group’s biggest hit, Hey Jude. Among the performances that stood out the most for me are Stevie Wonder’s version of We Can Work It Out (which is my favourite non-Beatles version) because he rocked the house, John Legend and Alicia Keys’s joint rendition of Let It Be because their harmonies and piano work were extraordinary, and of course the solo performances by Ringo Starr, now 73, and Sir Paul McCartney, 71, because they show that almost 44 years after their band broke up, the music of the Beatles still stand the test of time. Ringo sang the classics Yellow Submarine and Boys in his trademark Beatles baritone voice, while Paul played his signature Hofner bass guitar and wrapped his golden voice around tunes like Get Back, Birthday, and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, after which Ringo joined him on With A Little Help From My Friends.
The Beatles did more than just play rock ‘n roll. They did more than just create music that will never be forgotten. They changed music history forever with their Ed Sullivan Show performances, their 20 US Number One hit singles (a record that no other artist has broken to this day), and an estimate of over 600 million record sales worldwide. Even though the Liverpudlians’ influence reflects on the music of such artists as the Bee Gees, the Bangles, Michelle Branch, yours truly, and of course, Paul’s son, James McCartney, the Beatles’ musical legacy is undeniable and will never truly be matched. Their music truly is a revolution.
Originally posted 18th October 2013
Last year, as most of you have, I saw a commercial for Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos, where I heard a song where its singer sang the lyrics, “I took a walk,” and the harmony vocals sang the words, “Take a walk.” Initially, I had no idea who these guys were who made this record until last Sunday night, over a day after hearing it at Burger King on National Hwy in Thomasville, I did a Google search of “songs used in Taco Bell commercials.” I found the links to the song, titled Take A Walk by Passion Pit, an alternative rock/techno pop band from Boston. After seeing a couple of YouTube videos for the song (a tale about a businessman who has fallen upon hard times), I downloaded it onto my laptop from iTunes and transferred it onto my Android phone.
So if you like techno pop music, or if you’re an alternative rock junkie like me, go to iTunes or Google Play, and download Take A Walk by Passion Pit for $1.29 per download. It’s got a killer, infectious beat, and you won’t be able to get it out of your head, even when you’re taking a walk.
Passion Pit – Take a Walk: http://youtu.be/dZX6Q-Bj_xg
Originally posted 27th August 2013
This past Sunday, MTV aired its annual Video Music Awards live from Brooklyn. Since its first ceremony in 1984 (remember Madonna’s Like A Virgin performance?), I have seen almost every VMA broadcast and rebroadcast. Still, I must say that this year’s VMAs featured a lot of great performances, including some that were rather controversial. Speaking of which, if you thought that either Prince’s butt-less performance in 1991 or Kanye West’s interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in 2009 was one of the most controversial in the history of the VMAs, that doesn’t even hold a candle to a moment that I am about describe in the next paragraph.
The show opened with Lady Gaga performing Applause and closed with Katy Perry’s rendition of her biggest hit to date, Roar. Even Gaga’s appearance was tame in contrast to Miley Cyrus’ sexually charged performance of We Can’t Stop, followed by her frisky duet of Blurred Lines with Robin Thicke. Now, I don’t know for sure what dear ol’ dad Billy Ray must’ve been thinking (except that maybe his little girl gave a killer performance but could’ve toned it down a bit for fear of it being very Madonna-esqe), but the act was clearer and further confirmation that Miley is not Hannah Montana anymore. So much for the best of both worlds! People are still talking about it either in the cafeteria at school, around the water cooler at work, or on Twitter (talk about nearly 4 million tweets!).
The best moment of the entire VMAs show was Justin Timberlake’s Video Vanguard performance of a medley of some of his biggest hits, such as Cry Me A River, SexyBack, Suit And Tie, and his latest, Mirrors. The biggest surprise was that the rumour was confirmed that *NSYNC had indeed reunited for Justin’s performance to sing Gone, Girlfriend, and Bye Bye Bye. I must say, great way to reunite one of the greatest boy bands of all time since the Beatles and the New Kids On The Block, but *NSYNC, you guys seriously need to make another record and tour because y’all ain’t done that in ages! Anyhow, when Justin accepted his Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award from Jimmy Fallon, he remembered that he owed a part of his success (including half of the Moonmen that he’s ever won) to Chris, Joey, Lance, and JC. In my opinion, it was one of the most unforgettable moments of the entire VMA ceremony.
I can’t wait until next year’s VMAs to see what they have in store, and I’m pretty sure that it’ll be bigger, badder, and better than ever!
Originally posted 5th August 2013
The lyric in the title was written by a good buddy of mine, Phillip “Peacetrain” Peace, and performed by his band, White Light. Yes, Phillip and two of his White Light bandmates, Drew Hofmann and Tim Webb, rolled on down to R Lo’s Pub & Grub here in Thomasville a couple of weekends ago, and they rocked the place with their brand of acoustic rock ‘n roll sung in the best three-part harmony in the business.
I only stayed for most of the first part of White Light’s set because I had to ride my bike back home before it got too late, but at least I got to hear their renditions of hits by Gene Vincent, Jimmy Buffett, and the Band as well as some of their originals (written by Tim and Phillip). Everytime I see White Light play, I enjoy some key elements of their sound, including Phillip’s bluesy harmonica, Tim’s Dylanesque lyrics, and Drew’s distinctive first tenor harmonies. If you haven’t seen these guys play yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. So instead of being eaten alive over this, go to whitelightrocks.com for more information on future show dates and updates on new music releases. Be sure to tell ’em that Benji sent ya!
Originally posted 26th April 2013
When I first heard today that the legendary George Jones has passed away today, I was surprised. I was not a wild fan of his, but I thought his music was pretty good. Songs like “She Thinks I Still Care” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today” showcased his distinctive baritone/tenor voice. The mark that he left on country music over the years will never be forgotten.
May you rest in peace, George Jones.
Originally posted 9th February 2013
That’s right! My friend, White Light member Phillip “Peacetrain” Peace from High Point, NC, played an incredible show at R Lo’s Pub & Grub on Fisher Ferry Street in Thomasville. He, with some help from fellow musician Joe Parsons, entertained the audience with covers of hits by the likes of the Impressions, Jimmy Buffett, and Eric Clapton as well as his own original songs like “Rollin’ On Down” and “Don’t Be Leavin’ Me Behind.”
From watching him perform both as a solo artist and with White Light, I can personally say that Phillip has one of the best voices that I have ever heard on the Triad music scene, and his musical talents (on rhythm guitar and harmonica) and songwriting are extraordinary. If you haven’t heard his music yet, check it out at reverbnation.com/phillippeacetrainpeace. Also, don’t forget to listen to him, Drew, Tim, and Nick at whitelightrocks.com.
Originally posted 23rd January 2013
This past Monday, I watched the Presidential Inauguration. In this history making televised event, three of music’s finest artists — James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson, and Beyonce — delivered stellar performances. After Vice President Joe Biden was sworn in, James sang “America The Beautiful,” featuring his signature accompaniment style on acoustic guitar. Following President Barack Hussein Obama II’s inauguration and speech, Kelly wowed the audience (including the First and Second Familes and maybe former President Bill Clinton) with her soulful, powerful rendition of “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee.”
Near the end of the ceremony was Beyonce’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which has been drawing both praise and criticism — the latter due to allegations that she lip-synched the song. I mean, what?! Give me a break! I, for one, don’t believe that she lip-synched anything because when she sings, she hits every note almost perfectly. If she did, in fact, use a “pre-recorded track” to back her up, then I’m pretty sure she sang over it nearly flawlessly because Beyonce’s the kind of artist that doesn’t like to let people down. LEAVE BEYONCE ALONE! SHE’S NOT MILLI VANILLI FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! GET OVER IT!!!
Understandably, artists like Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, and the late Whitney Houston have used backing tracks in their performances so that they wouldn’t get their songs wrong, but sometimes as an artist, sometimes you have to bend the rules a little bit to keep your audience entertained. Also, I know that performances by people like Milli Vanilli and Ashlee Simpson have gone wrong due to issues with their backing tracks. We are musicians. We’re only human. Don’t punish or criticise us just because we tend to bend the rules when we perform.
In spite of it all, I enjoyed the Inauguration, and the music there was incredible.
GOryanGO is an amazing power pop trio from Winston-Salem. It features another good friend of mine from my Winston-Salem open mic nights, Matt Weiser on lead vocal and guitar and two Ryan brothers, Brett on drums, and Christian on bass.
Matt is an extraordinary singer/songwriter, and when he was playing at the Garage open mic nights, I was impressed by his musical style, which reminded me of the likes of Lifehouse and the Goo Goo Dolls. I have also seen him perform as a member of the Incomplete, who later became GOryanGO, a couple of times at the Garage open mics, and they rocked the house!
Here in this one-time furniture manufacturing powerhouse city of Thomasville, musicians are few and far between, and one fellow Thomasvillian musician whom I’ve been fortunate to know has been Sarah Kennedy of Mrs. Kennedy and the Noize. I first met her at a club on West Main Street called the Soundvent (which has since closed) where an alternative rock band whom she was fronting was playing. I forgot the name of this group, but Sarah’s mezzo-soprano voice was the engine that drove the band. Currently, her musical style is more stripped down as she croons original folk rock tunes and covers of songs by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Ben Harper, and the Beatles.
If you are a fan of Joni Mitchell or Sheryl Crow, check out Sarah’s music at reverbnation.com/mrskennedyandthenoize.