“While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Nearly twelve million views and counting. Every ukulele maker in the world owes Jake Shimabukuro a handjob. The 36-year-old cherub-faced phenom returned to the region in April, eager like a puppy to show off his latest disc, Grand Ukulele. Shimabukuro can shred, yes, he can shred, but he’s smart enough not to shred all the time – even if his lighting designer can’t seem to stop shredding the greens, blues and whites during the slow stuff.
If you’re a fan of traditional Scottish music then it’s likely that the magnificent singer and multi-instrumentalist Julie Fowlis doesn’t need any introduction. After all, she’s been introducing Scots Gaelic songs to the mainstream music audience for years now, winning fans all over the world. She’s certainly no stranger to awards, either, having won top honors as Gaelic Singer of the Year and Album of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards 2007. She was also honored as BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year in 2008, the first ever Scottish Gaelic singer to win the prestigious award.
“Oh, you are a funny person. First of all, I don’t clean the house. And second of all, I don’t listen to music when I’m at home. Isn’t that weird? Probably because I’ve always got music in my head, and anyone I’ve ever slept with tells me that I have one foot that keeps time all night long.”
“You and Me Against the World”…
“Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady”…
She was the Queen of ’70s Pop, and for much of that decade, you simply couldn’t listen to the radio without hearing Helen Reddy, who racked up a whopping 15 Top 10 hits during that time. She topped the charts at No. 1 three times in the same year. She hosted her own prime-time network variety series. She was the very first winner of the Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist trophy from the American Music Awards. And she was the first Australian to win a Grammy Award.
But no question about it, Helen Reddy will always be best remembered for her signature “I Am Woman,” which became an enduring, bona fide, feminist anthem.
Then in 2002, she retired from show business, earned a degree in clinical hypnotherapy and, for the past decade, has lived quietly Down Under in Sydney.
But now she’s back in the spotlight, touring again for the first time since 2002, after reportedly being pleasantly surprised by the warm reception she received when she sang at her sister’s birthday party.
BUT WAIT… we’re giving away a pair of FREE TICKETS for the concert to a lucky Nippertown reader! To enter the contest, just post a comment below. Please leave your email address, too. We won’t publish it, but we’ll use it to contact you if you win. Deadline to enter is 12noon on Friday (March 15), when the winner will be selected at random and notified that afternoon. Good luck! Congratulations to the winner, who has been notified by email.
A blossom of color, energy and motion – the dances of Nai-Ni Chen fuse the dynamic freedom of American modern dance with the grace and splendor of Asian art. In “Temptation of the Muses,” this renowned dance company joins the Ahn Trio, one of classical music’s most innovative ensembles, and composer Kenji Bunch, in an exciting new collaboration that integrates new original music along with musical selections by Pat Metheny, David Balakrishnan and Ronn Yedidia, and original dance in a performance inspired by the poem “A Word for Freedom,” by Persian poet Latif Nazemi.
BUT WAIT… there’s more. We’re giving away a pair of FREE TICKETS for “Temptation of the Muses” to a lucky Nippertown reader! To enter the contest, just post a comment below. Please leave your email address, too. We won’t publish it, but we’ll use it to contact you if you win. Deadline to enter is 12noon on Saturday (February 16). The winner will be selected at random and notified on Saturday afternoon. Good luck!
Michael Cooper is a puppeteer extraordinaire, a master mask-maker, a virtuoso mime and an eye-popping all-around visual performance artist. At 2pm on Saturday, Cooper will step onto the stage of the Music Hall to bring to life “Masked Marvels & Wondertales.”
Combining the mythical and the autobiographical, Cooper’s one-man extravaganza features his breathtaking handcrafted masks, original stories of courage and wonder, outlandish stilt-dancing, and a physical repertoire that ranges from the madcap to the sublime. The result is “moving sculpture.”
The Berkshire Bach Society represents the finest Bach in the Berkshires and boasts one of the greatest ensembles in the country, The Berkshire Bach Ensemble, led by the world-renowned harpsichordist Kenneth Cooper.
This year’s Bach at New Year’s event features nineteen world-class virtuosi in a special concert called Brandenburgs PLUS. On the program will be a delicious Concerto for two horns, two oboes and solo violin by the irrepressible Antonio Vivaldi, the ever-popular Bach Double Concerto for Violin and Oboe in a new reconstruction by Dr. Cooper allowing more of Bach’s original music to be heard than ever before, and the devilish Harpsichord Concerto No. 15 in D minor by Handel (stolen largely from Telemann) with a special cadenza by harpsichordist Kenneth Cooper.
Review by Don Wilcock Photographs by Richard A. Siciliano
Who owns a song?
Songs are like hats or suits. They can become costumes to singers that define their image to their public and the public’s acceptance of their talent in a way that has little bearing on how talented they are otherwise. Bob Dylan has a terrible voice by most standards, but his songs defined a generation and the complex references to literary touchstones and history – often rewritten – still have his fans studying him like a messiah half a century into his career. Tony Bennett once told me the secret to his long career and renewed acceptance by younger generations was a good song. To each, their songs are as important as Garth Brook’s black hat, Dr. John’s cap, Jimi Hendrix’s military gingerbread or Keith Richards’ studied hobo decadence.
Both Jimmy Webb and Judy Collins wore black spangles at this performance and both sang great songs. The difference between them is the question of who owns their songs. Jimmy Webb has written hundreds of great songs like “Wichita Lineman,” “By The Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Up, Up and Away,” dozens of them in the collective consciousness of the general public. But all of them were made hits by other artists, in this case Glen Campbell and the Fifth Dimension. Judy Collins, on the other hand, has built a career of interpreting other artists’ songs to the point of having her versions transcend the originals.
When we hear Jimmy Webb sing “By The Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman” alone on a Steinway grand piano, it’s a different experience than the Glen Campbell version that’s been programmed into our brains for 45 years. The words are the same, but the emotions they elicit are not as strong because in our mind we know its Glen Campbell agonizing over the distance between him and his lady, not this guy Webb.
When we hear Judy Collins sing Joan Baez’s “Diamonds and Rust,” it’s easier for us to suspend our disbelief and fantasize that she’s recalling the romance of her own relationship with another musical icon – Stephen Stills, perhaps – rather than interpreting a song written by Joan Baez about her affair with Bob Dylan. Judy makes us believe her own folk Madonna mantel and forget Joan Baez’s version.