Amingo The Premiere Network for Music Professionals Mon, 14 Jul 2014 03:40:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 15 Songs Your Kids (and Everyone Else) Should Know Mon, 14 Jul 2014 02:28:03 +0000 15 song every kids should knowAs a musician and lifelong music-lover, I have attempted to introduce my kids to as much music as possible–from listening to playing. Fortunately, so far, I haven’t annoyed them too much with my music-selection and constant music analysis.

Both kids have a love of music, and play instruments… quite well actually. While I don’t take credit for that in any way, I do hope that the music that my wife and I have exposed our children to has made a positive impact on the depth of their appreciation.

Some context: I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s… back when 8-tracks turned to cassettes, and vinyl 45’s and 33-1/3’s turned to CD’s. Back when we would listen to a whole “side” of an album over and over again, and knew exactly (and expected) which song was coming next. And we knew and appreciated the “B-side”.

And, music was easier to digest as a whole… we weren’t bombarded by millions of song choices like we are today.

Whether they represent a certain time or musical innovation, there are some songs that are just classics. So my focus on this post is to write about what I think are songs every kid should hear, experience, and know… sort of like a music history lesson. These are just 15 of my picks from a list that started with about 60 songs.

What are your picks?

“American Pie” – Don McLean

This song is an American classic. It’s about “the day the music died”… when in 1959, music legends Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash.

“In the Air Tonight” – Phil Collins

I remember back in 1984 when the TV show Miami Vice debuted, and they played this song to set the perfect mood for the feeling of the show. Using a popular song in that way was relatively new to TV. And, who doesn’t like to air-drum to it??

“Hey Jude” – Beatles

No matter what you might think about the Beatles, there is no disputing their importance in planting the seeds of pop/rock music as we know it. There are too many Beatles songs to choose from, so I decided to choose one of my favorites.

“Crazy Train” – Ozzy Osbourne

At one time, Ozzy was best know as the guy who bit the head off of a bat, and parent should be concerned if their children listened to his music. Who would have believed back then that he would become a popular and mostly-beloved TV star, welcomed into so many homes on his TV show “The Osbournes”. This song represents a time in music when hard rock was evolving and “scary” to parents.

“What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong

This is a beautiful song about being positive and optimistic in life… a message for which we all could learn a lesson. It’s one of my favorites.

“Lights” – Journey

Being a piano/keyboard player, I was a huge fan of Journey back in the 80’s. Apparently, I’m not alone as they have sold over 75 million records, making them one of the world’s best selling bands of all time. I chose Lights because it is a great song with a great melody and bluesy feel.

“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” – Pat Benatar

What can I say… Pat Benatar knows how to rock! Having a daughter, I think it’s important for her to know that girls can rock just as much as boys can. Rock on!

“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” – Simple Minds

Probably best know as the song from the John Hughes film “The Breakfast Club”, this song represents a generation of 80’s culture.

“Wanted Dead or Alive” – Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi’s album “Slippery When Wet” is a rock’n’roll classic. There are a few songs that I could choose, but who doesn’t like to sing along with this song?

“Horse With No Name” – America

The style of this song captures the great folk sound of the early 70’s — it’s one of my favorites. It’s also one of my kids’ favorites.

“Piano Man” – Billy Joel

One of the things I like about 70’s music is the great story telling. Billy Joel does an excellent job of sharing his experience as a piano-lounge singer for six months in 1972. Now, I realize that a bar-theme might not be the most kid-appropriate topic — but hey, back in the 70’s kids didn’t wear seat belts either.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen

This song showcases Freddie Mercury’s amazing songwriting talent and Queen’s amazing singing talent. The song was released twice: first in 1975 and then in 1991 following Mercury’s death. And, who doesn’t love the use of the song in the car scene from the 1992 movie Wayne’s World?

“Tiny Dancer” – Elton John

I’m including this song for similar reasons that I included Billy Joel… great story telling. There are certainly many other Elton John songs I could pick.

“Gimme Shelter” – The Rolling Stones

Like the Beatles, The Rolling Stones are equally influential to the roots of rock’n’roll. The mood of this song effectively paints a picture of tension and war, which was fitting for the time period when it was released in 1969.

“Jack & Diane” – John Cougar

I loved early MTV… when it was really “Music Television” offering 24 hours of videos, with VJ’s to guide you through the music selection. This song in particular reminds me of that time; and what a great time it was.

…Let me know your picks in the Comments below!

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Q&A with Larry Kennedy of the Jellybricks Tue, 04 Sep 2012 02:23:13 +0000 I recently sat down with Larry Kennedy (@Larrybrick) of The Jellybricks. The Jellybricks are a great, high-energy pop-rock band from Pennsylvania. This year they released their fifth studio album, Suckers, on the New Jersey label Pop Detective. The band has appeared on compilation CDs with the likes of The Smithereens, The Posies, Fountains of Wayne and Phil Keaggy.

We conducted a Skype video interview that, due to a plague of technical difficulties, took a few days and several connections to complete. In an effort to provide consistency and continuity Larry wore the same shirt and hat on the second day as he had on the first. Very considerate of him but what he didn’t know is that when we hooked up the second time I was in my living room rather than in my office as I was at first. Thanks for trying Larry.

The video hangs up here and there, changes resolution a few times and makes me appear and disappear but I think it came out pretty well. Larry is very enthusiastic and a good story teller so that makes up for the sometimes shoddy quality. His computer gave up the ghost before we were entirely finished so he answered my last few questions via email which can be read below:

The Jellybricks

MQ: I read that you were Music Director at WBWC FM. How long did you do that? Did you learn anything from that experience that helped your music career? Did you make any useful connections?

LK: I started attending classes at Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio (just outside of Cleveland) in the fall of 1991, and curiosity led me to a meeting of the radio station board, where I determined that I might be qualified to review records for airplay. My reviews impressed the Program Director, and little did I know that the Music Director position had just been vacated – so the PD invited me briskly to apply for the position. I remained in the position until Christmas of ’92, when I left school to join yet another rock ‘n’ roll band (ignore that part, you youngsters looking for life-direction). It was a wonderful time for me – maintaining the largest music library I’ve ever seen, helping to shape the sounds of the takeover of “alternative” rock – literally becoming Music Director just in time for the “coming of Nirvana,” and the Seattle scene. From where I sat, it was like a renaissance of rock music was taking place, and I was lucky enough to be a part of it.

What I learned was how important the college radio market was and is to independent artists, and that treating these kids with respect and regard is a good way to get them to listen to your music. College radio kids aren’t industry-jaded wanna-be’s, but rather, they are the unfettered, genuine music fans who want to be a part of making history. As a Music Director, I also learned to open my ears wider stylistically, which certainly expanded my own music tastes and understanding.

As far as connections go, I’m happy to say that some of the best friends of my life were made while I was in college radio, and that many of those friends still support my music. Indeed, every college radio station in Cleveland plays The Jellybricks, and I’d like to think that my history there is a small part of that.

MQ: How has it been being signed to Pop Detective? What do you think it means to be signed these days?

LK: Pop Detective has been a great label for us already. It’s a small operation based in New Jersey, run by a guy named Mark Hershberger, who is simply a passionate music fan, and a great guy. We believe strongly that being on the Pop Detective label was a great help in getting our music heard by “Little Steven” Van Zandt, in that he has already championed two other Pop Detective artists, The Dahlmanns from Norway, and The Deadbeat Poets from Youngstown, Ohio. Mark has worked well with our management, and has only been generous and supportive of us. In fact, when Little Steven named “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” his “Coolest Song in the World” back in March, we experienced a scene from “That Thing You Do,” when Mark surprised us by showing up at a show in Phoenixville, PA – just to congratulate us. That … is real hands-on label support.

So that’s what it’s like to be signed to a completely human-driven independent label – it’s a smaller budget, but it’s good people, with great intentions. I couldn’t say what it’s like to be signed to a larger label at this point. I still get the impression that the big dogs of the industry are so painfully money-oriented (not unlike what has happened in business and government across the board), that one’s career as an artist is brutally secondary to whatever business interests may come first.  It’s easy to point fingers at major labels and the way they operate, but it’s only easy because they’ve shown their true colors for as long as there have been profits to be made off the backs of the creative hopefuls. There are stories upon stories about the money raked in by business while the people who wrote, recorded, and performed the “product” have nothing monetarily to show for their efforts. They used to call this “serfdom.” Having mentioned to you already that we’ve encountered some thoroughly cynical label folks who wondered if we were “sleeping with program directors,” and who urged us to “write more songs like (our already radio-proven regional hit), ‘Who Is God,'” I think we’re just grateful that the downside of the business was never enough to deter our progress as a band.

MQ: Do you have any advice for band just starting out?

LK: Do this because you love it. Do this because you wouldn’t be happy otherwise. Do this to feed your own soul by having a creative voice, and doing something that inspires others. Don’t do this to make money – the odds are against that entirely. Above all, enjoy the freedom that allows us to make music, do it well, don’t be afraid of what others might think, and remember that you’re creating an experience for yourselves, and for your audience. They could be at home watching some lame reality TV show after all, but if they’re into your music, they’re the coolest people in your world.


Part 1

Part 2

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My Latest Musical Fixation – Cheyenne Marie Mize Sat, 11 Aug 2012 17:20:57 +0000 My latest musical fixation is a young lady by the name of Cheyenne Marie Mize from Louisville, Kentucky. Cheyennes first release Before Lately is a beautiful collection of melancholy folk tunes with the occasional tinge of country and bluegrass. Her voice has an intimate breathiness sometimes reminiscent of Fiona Apple while being more reserved and classy. My favorite track on this album is probably Friend. A song that manages to be haunting and uplifting at the same time, with a guitar providing a bobbing rhythm and a banjo coruscating beneath Cheyennes sad, but hopeful sounding vocals.

Her newest release, We Don’t Need, is more musically diverse – exposing influences of blues, R&B and rock. On her site it says that Mize wants listeners to know “the songs on We Don’t Need are meant to be digested individually more than as continuous parts of a complete whole. Each has its own character and will likely be enjoyed in different mental states”. She goes on to say that each of the diverse tunes are a hint of things to come.

It Lingers, track 5 on WE Don’t Need, is the song that began my obsession with Mize. Dark chords banged out on a gritty, jangling, reverb-covered guitar in the vein of Wye Oak. Awesome tune. Don’t Call Me Beautiful brings to mind the evocative lilt of Beth Gibbons of Portishead. The opening track, Wishing Well, is thankfully not a cover of Terrence Trent D’Arby’s 1987 hit (though I guiltily admit to liking that song it does not need to be redone). It’s a fun, upbeat number that I can see being a radio success for Mize.

Cheyenne has performed with fellow Louisville native (and one of my all-time favorites) Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Finding a bit of creative chemistry they collaborated on a recording of 19th century American parlor songs hand-picked by the two of them. The 6-song collection, Among the Gold, can be downloaded for free here.

I can’t wait to hear more from this artist. While I wait I’ll be wearing out the 16 tracks available on Spotify.

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What is Artist and Repertoire? Fri, 10 Aug 2012 14:29:52 +0000 In this Indie Movement, we’ve seen and heard it all from those who’ve railed so hard against the recording industry for a more level playing field.  What we’ve ended up with is a democratized business model where the majority vote controls the minority. That’s what democracy means — at least 51% majority wins.

Somehow being No. 1 on web-based radio in the city where you live is now akin to being No. 1 on the Billboard radio charts. Radio transmitting hit songs over the airwaves all across the country is not exactly like people one at a time listening to a song on any web-based platform.

The definition of publicist went from having relationships with real college-educated journalists to shipping a poorly written one-sheet with no angle, no pitch, no journalistic prowess,  to a web-driven database for distribution among media outlets that target funeral homes for all we know.

It’s all quite insignificant in the big picture. We really must stop the deception about what this all means. If your goal is to actually sign with a record label…the indie model means absolutely nothing to them. No amount of PRWeb press releases, promotion to ReverbNation fans, or hits on YouTube is going to change their mind.

Radio promotion does not mean getting fans to listen to songs on ReverbNation. Residency does not mean playing in a venue more than once over a succession of time. And I hate to break it to so many indie movers and shakers, but,

nothing about the term or definition of A& R has changed

Here is Wikipedia’s definition:

Artists and repertoire (A&R) is the division of a record label that is responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists. It also acts as a liaison between artists and the record label; every activity involving artists to the point of album release is generally considered under the purview of, and responsibility of, A&R.

An  A & R executive works for a record label.

An A & R executive is authorized to offer a record contract typically in a short form document called a deal memo.

A & R execs oversee the process of development working with an artist up to the point of record launch, including making decisions in suitable repertoire for a recorded work.

For artists who do not write their own music, A&R executives maintain contact with their counterparts at music publishing companies to get new songs and material from songwriters and producers.

Over the past decade the demand for a democratic music system has become Fantasy Island using hypocrisy as a means to an end. The end of great music, that put real money into a real economy, with real professionals at the helm of a real art form.

All too many use music biz terms very loosely to fit their own agenda so they are able to fool some of the people most of the time. Without question, they are fooling themselves all of the time.

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Lollapalooza Evacuated Due to Severe Weather Mon, 06 Aug 2012 14:19:20 +0000 Lollapalooza Evacuated

Music festival attendees evacuated from Grant Park due to severe weather.

The long running Lollapalooza music festival had it’s first evacuation since it began in 1991. The city of Chicago’s Emergency Management, as well as promoter C3 were carefully watching the weather and made the decision to evacuate while the skies were still clear. Officials made the announcements and asked concert goers to leave Grant Park around 3:30pm sending tens of thousands of people into the city (attendance was estimated at 60,000). People were taking shelter wherever they could –  underground parking garages, hotel lobbies and bars. An article by the Chicago Tribune says that the bars ran out of mixed drink ingredients.

The park reopened a few hours later after officials inspected the area for any damage. Winds during the storm likely got as high as 60 miles an hour which is very dangerous with the tall and temporary nature of the concert staging. Promoters and city officials are  likely to be more cautious than ever because of the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair last year where part of the stage structure blew into the audience during high winds killing 7 fans. When the safety of that many people is at stake you can’t be too careful.

In the end the festival was shut down for approximately 3 hours. A handful of bands were unable to play and C3 is offering no refunds. The fields were a sea of mud after the deluge. Apparently the promoter will have to pay to mend the turf (but what good festival doesn’t end with mud pies and dirty faces)?

Kudos to officials handling the event as there were no reported injuries or arrests throughout the evacuation and reopening.

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Madison Rising: Rock ‘n Reverence Like You’ve Never Seen Tue, 17 Jul 2012 11:12:31 +0000 Madison Rising Album Cover(Nashville, TN – July 16) The summer of 2012 is full of events marking historical anniversaries, and celebrating worldwide events where The Star Spangled Banner, will ring from sea to shining sea. In July two milestones will be remembered and celebrated. July 20 is the 43rd anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon, and July 21 marks the same anniversary for Neil Armstrong being the first man to walk on the moon. That same week, the world will watch as the Olympic Games begin in London where The Star Spangled Banner will be played in support of American athletes competing among more than 200 nations.

August 17 is the date remembered when Jimi Hendrix played a mind-blowing rendition of the national anthem at Woodstock in 1969. And of course,September 11 is a date forever etched in global history as the most unbelievable terrorist attack on American soil. As summer rolls into fall we’ll hear Francis Scott Key’s devotional words throughout the presidential campaign.

Enter Madison Rising. Billed as the quintessential all American rock band, they proudly perform an impassioned reverent version of The Star Spangled Banner all Americans will be proud to stand behind. Well-known as one of the most difficult songs to sing, Madison Rising does a superb job delivering The Star Spangled Banner  which is receiving a great deal of attention from all corners of America with nearly a quarter million hits on in less that 60 days.

Dave Bray is the front man for Madison Rising. A dedicated patriot, Bray served in the U.S. Navy for four years as an 8404 FMF corpsman for 2nd battalion 2nd marines, and while at Camp Johnson in North Carolina, won the coveted Top Dog Award. He was the lead singer of the bands 1Echo1 and Soveren prior to becoming the front man for Madison Rising.

Madison Rising takes their name in honor of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States and a key author of the Constitution, The Bill of Rights, and The Federalist Papers. Madison Rising promotes the principles of liberty, independence, and personal responsibility.

As we approach so many landmark dates in American history, please show your support by posting Madison Rising performing The Star Spangled Banner. For more information, please visit

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A Ray of Sunshine Beaming Across the Americana Scene: Grace Adele and The Grand Band Mon, 09 Jul 2012 01:22:27 +0000 Walking up Nashville’s lower Broadway on the way to a showcase for Grace Adele & The Grand Band, it was clear it would be standing room only in Robert’s Western World. Phil Harris, of pH Balanced Recordings, and Grammy-winning engineer, put on a party April 14 showcasing a whole lot of talent where the room was filled to the rafters. Literally, the main floor and balcony were filled to capacity that hot, sunny afternoon.

Robert’s Western World is a legendary honky tonk, but this event featured several Americana artists. Grace Adele and The Grand Band is a 4-piece female-fronted string band based in Nashville. On acoustic guitar, Grace Adele fronts Keenan Wade on mandolin, Josh Huber on upright bass, and Kristen Weber joined in beautifully on fiddle in Chase Potter’s absence. They were showcasing their Nashville debut, The Grand Sessions, a 10-cut recording of original material. My basic metric measuring how good a band really is contrasts live performance with recorded material. No one will be disappointed in the live interactive performance. These folks had more than 100 dates on their 2011 touring calendar and their polished show scales very well against their studio work. The difference, of course, is the energy in the room when four acoustic musicians are there to entertain you.

Grace Adele has a natural charm as she invites the audience to participate rather than spectate. No room for dancing on this occasion, I’m sure people often enjoy western swing to tunes like “Town’s Too Small.” Lively and engaging it got people’s attention from the first waltzing measures. Other tunes from the CD included ” Never Lost,” “Over You,” Sweet and Lonesome” “Brown Eyes” and “Something to Say,” highlighting western swing, bluegrass, country, folk, and a touch of indie rock. They covered Ernest Tubb’s “Thanks a Lot” to great affect in the 45-minute set.

If there is one critical point to make about this show, slower tunes don’t translate well in a room like Robert’s. The impassioned ballad, “Over You” is arguably the best cut on the CD. This tune is best left for a listening room in order to feel every tear-stained note. Conversely, another great album cut is “Sweet and Lonesome” which has more color and depth live than the recorded version.

One of the more impressive characteristics of this band is how well relatively young players steep their talent in vintage music styles. Much like Carolina Chocolate Drops, there is genuine craftsmanship in the music The Grand Band makes. And at the tip of the iceberg is the sheer authenticity of Grace Adele’s voice. Whatever the “it” is found in music that works, Grace has “it” without artifice. For those who love the female pioneers of roots music, another is about to emerge, albeit in a totally different era. She’s a ray of sunshine beaming across a sea of female artists attempting to do what she does naturally.

Find Grace Adele on the web:, and follow her on twitter: @graceadelemusic

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Download Festival 2013 Mon, 11 Jun 2012 03:19:41 +0000 Logo for the 10th annual Download FestivalTickets for the 11th annual Download Festival go on sale a mere five days after the end of this years event. On Friday, June 15th at 9am BST a limited number of early-bird tickets will go on sale for the concert which is set for June 14-16 2013 at it’s home in Donington Park, UK. Not sure if they’ll have any commitments for the lineup at this early date but with their track record I’m sure they can be trusted to deliver.

The three major headliners from this years show were The Prodigy, Metallica (who played the entire Black album) and Black Sabbath. Other notable heavyweights were Soundgarden, Machine Head, Megadeth, Lamb of God and Fear Factory. Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro introduced a few new songs during their performance on Saturday, June 9th.

Eye-witness guestimates of attendance seem to round out to be around 75k.

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CBGB Movie Sat, 26 May 2012 00:13:23 +0000 The club Hilly founded in 1973 was intended as a venue for country, bluegrass and blues music but after he found it hard to fill up the schedule with such bands he opened the door to local musicians of all genres. As a consequence CBGB became the geyser from which erupted the american punk scene. Bands like the Ramones, Patti Smith, the Misfits and many more found their audiences there. It’s amazing how one grubby little club in NYC could be so vitally important to modern music.

Too young to see it in its heyday and too lazy to drive to new York to see a show, I never made it to the place before it shut it’s doors in 2006 with a final performance by Patti Smith, but as a huge fan of music I appreciate Hillys contribution and I look forward to seeing the film. Hopefully they’ll avoid the schmaltz that ran throughout Bottle Shock.

The full name of the club is CBGB & OMFUG. The first four letters stand for the styles of music originally intended to be heard there. The final five stand for “Other Music For Uplifting Gourmandizers”. Gourmandizers is a form of gourmand which means someone who loves and indulges in food and Hilly obviously related that to an omnivorous consumption of musical styles.

Mmm . . . This punk rock tastes like chicken.

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Q&A With Chris Haskett Sat, 12 May 2012 15:46:03 +0000 Chris HaskettAmingo recently sat down with guitarist Chris Haskett for a Skype video-chat — us in Annapolis, MD and him in Nijmegen, Netherlands.

Chris is best known for his role in the iconic post-hardcore group Rollins Band. His hard-driving, eclectic guitar riffs were a perfect counterpoint to singer Henry Rollins’ scolding vocals. The quartet came to prominence in the 90’s with “Liar” and “Low Self Opinion” getting lots of airplay on MTV and radio stations all over the world.

Chris and I discussed the highlights of his long career and talked about his various new recordings. We also discussed the differences he’s seen in recording and touring from the early days to now. He shares a rock-veteran’s view of the current state of self-publishing and promotion.

Chris just finished an instrumental EP with Washington, DC drummer Brandon Finley. It’s a hard-rock Go-Go album. It prominently showcases both musicians love for DC Go-Go, avant garde riffs, and funky beats. Chris’ style is undeniably unique.

Follow Chris on Twitter (@haskettguitar).

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