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Springsteen to Guest on Spectacle

The Boss will be a guest on Elvis Costello’s Spectacle program this coming season on CTV in Canada (and on January 27 on Sundance in the U.S.).

From a New Jersey Star-Ledger article by Jay Lustig about the 2-hour season finale with Bruce and members of his E-Street Band:

Songs performed by the entire ensemble include urgent versions of Springsteen’s "The Rising" and "Seeds," as well as a soul-shouting duet on the Sam and Dave hit "I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down" and a well-conceived medley of Springsteen’s "Radio Nowhere" and Costello’s "Radio Radio."

Costello opens the first episode by singing Springsteen’s "She’s the One" and introducing him as the "past, present, future of rock ’n’ roll." The artists’ respect and admiration for each other is obvious as they discuss Springsteen’s development as a musician and a person, and their musical philosophies.

"The greatest rock ’n’ roll musicians are desperate men," Springsteen muses. "You’ve got to have something bothering you all the time."

"You can’t always be a nice guy in the song, is what it is," Costello responds.

The pair also zeros in on specific topics, such as Springsteen’s early years performing in Asbury Park (he calls it a "low-rent Fort Lauderdale" and says the town’s isolation from the recording industry meant "you were left in a bit of your own wilderness"), fatherhood, the influence of Bob Dylan and President Obama’s inauguration.

The most amusing segment comes when they talk about the way Springsteen’s songwriting changed between 1975’s "Born to Run" and 1978’s "Darkness on the Edge of Town," becoming … well, darker.

"One reason it was different is there was some young English songwriter at the time who said the songs on ‘Born To Run’ were too romantic," says Springsteen. "I can’t remember his name right now, but …"

Costello looks genuinely surprised. "Was it me?" he asks. "It wasn’t me."

"I’ve been waiting 30 years for this moment," says Springsteen, with delight. "What do you think? Of course it was."

I’m looking forward to catching this episode for sure… The Muse is with these two and here’s a clip from the episode:

Singer-songwriter contest kicks off, every Tuesday night in Guelph

The Guelph Mercury recently reported on a weekly singer-songwriter contest taking place in Guelph at Frank and Steins every Tuesday night.

Kudos to Malachi Greenidge, a Guelph singer-songwriter, for putting the contest together.  As related in the article:

The singer/songwriter competition will allow local musicians to not only expose their music to the crowd, but get judged on their song. Every night, five judges will judge the talent on lyrics, song composition, melody, vocals and originality. The winner will walk away with $1,500 and all participants will receive a T-shirt and a CD of their performance.

“It’s not a singer contest,” Greenidge said. “It’s not who can come out and belt out songs like Whitney Houston.”

The judges have been asked to only judge vocals in relation to the songs and songwriting, Greenidge said, adding he didn’t want to mimic a Canadian Idol contest.

May the Muse be with Guelph… check it out if you’re in Guelph on a Tuesday night…

Chantal Kreviazuk – Performer, Songwriter, Mother

One of my favourites is this beautiful singer-songwriter… now calling L.A. home and writing for others while writing for herself and taking care of her children… she certainly does it all and does it all well… Kudos and May the Muse stay with you Chantal… and listen to her new album Plain Jane at her website.

Here are some quotes from an interview yesterday published in the Metro newspaper:

Being plain and ordinary doesn’t come easy to someone who has been a staple on Canadian charts since her 1996 debut Under These Rocks and Stones. A long-standing marriage to Raine Maida, frontman of Toronto band Our Lady Peace, isn’t exactly a recipe for anonymity either, nor is a home in the Big Smoke a secluded retreat for a Canuck pop couple. But what allows Kreviazuk to step out of the spotlight is her life in Los Angeles, where she can remain in the background crafting hits for artists such as Kelly Clarkson and Gwen Stefani.

“We’re focused on family … and our second jobs as songwriters in a totally different market place, different nation. It’s been a brilliant thing. I like me way better than I would have if I had been just the girl in Canada with the microscope on myself,” she says.

Her self-effacing approach works well when it comes to family. But that doesn’t necessarily mean she allows herself to get dwarfed by the million-selling singers she collaborates with in L.A.

“I realize that they came to me because there was something about me  the artist that they wanted. So I should be building that into the songwriting process with them,” she says.

And if there’s something of her that the self-proclaimed “live performance junkie” wants to get across in the music is authenticity and humility.
“I feel like being more of an artist that people can relate to. I never wanted to be Beyoncé, I never wanted to be Madonna. I wanted to be a singer-songwriter on a life journey  … I wanted to be relatable on a very realistic level.”

Bruce Springsteen – Prolific

Billboard has uploaded their new cover story with Bruce Springsteen, who just wrapped up another epic tour behind his latest album, Working On A Dream. In it, Springsteen discusses the ritual of taking requests from the audience, his decision to play full albums from Born To Run to The E Street Shuffle, and the longevity of the E Street Band.

“I’ve been prolific with my songwriting,” says Springsteen, “so I’ve been able to just get more music out there, which is something I always wanted to do. I found my 50s to be very, very fruitful. The songs came — I don’t want to say easily, but they came in a continuous flow. I had a lot of things I wanted to write about, so it allowed us to record quite a bit, and then back it up with the touring.”

Read the whole thing here. And watch Bruce live in Philadelphia below… May the Muse continue to stay with you Bruce…

Finally, the Kennedy Center honoured Bruce as a singer and a songwriter last Sunday… read about that here.

Best Wishes To Alexa Ray Joel

I won’t speculate as to what or who caused Ms. Joel’s recent hospitalization, but I do want to send prayers and best wishes to her and her family in this trying time…  May the Muse stay with you Joel Family…  Watch the making of Alexa Ray’s Invisible below and visit her website to download it for free

Ci vedimes and all the best…

SongStudio ’09

Kudos to Blair Packham et al (which “al” includes Rik Emmett, Ember Swift, Steven Page, Zack Werner and more!) for setting up SongStudio ’09, described as a “week-long adventure in songwriting at Toronto’s Ryerson University” and scheduled to take place this summer: July 18 – 24, 2009.

Just a bit from the website (which you should visit for yourself):

The week will focus on learning how to write your best songs ever. Best of all, you will get many chances to perform your songs, for supportive, attentive audiences in a warm, nurturing environment.

SongStudio’s format is designed to help you acquire strategies and tools to help turn your ideas into real, finished songs. Good songs that speak to your audience. If you have something to express through song, we can help. Maybe you only write lyrics. At SongStudio, chances are you’ll meet someone who needs help with their words, or who only writes music. And in the meantime, we can help you make your lyrics communicate more effectively, and help you learn how to write effective, compelling melodies and chord changes.

Something else happens at our workshops. Some might call it networking. We prefer to think of it as making friends, and if the last four years are any indication, many of the friendships made at our past workshops will be for life. This is a beautiful thing. So often, songwriting is a solitary art. When the experience can be shared, a community builds.

At SongStudio you will sing, you will laugh, you will listen, you’ll “talk shop”, but most of all, you will grow as a writer and as an artist.

Sounds like a wonderful, creative environment… May the Muse be with them all!

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Back with Elvis Costello

It’s been too long since I’ve posted… just busy work-wise and sad personal-wise to deal with my blogs but I’m excited about Elvis Costello’s Spectacle show finally being shown in Canada on CTV!

I first posted about this a while back and more recently here

I won’t repeat what was said in my past posts, only to add that the National Post carried this article today on the show.

I enjoyed the article and am really looking forward to the show. I hope you’ll watch it too… Some quotes from the article follow:

“They try to compare it to a talk show, but [David] Letterman goes on five times a week with three people every night,” Costello, 54, says. “I could never go on that often — there aren’t that many witty people in the world.”

“Any host, really, just has to set the scene,” says Costello, who writes every show and draws upon his huge musical knowledge in talking with guests such as Herbie Hancock and Elton John. “I steer the conversation toward a subject I’m interested in — that’s really all I’m suited to do.”

Costello’s onstage familiarity with jamming gives his show an improvised feel. What began with a dependence on a teleprompter gave way to playing with his guests by ear.

“The show really changed with Bill Clinton,” says Costello, explaining how the former U. S. president’s people informed him he’d only have 45 minutes to shoot. However, the famed raconteur and, according to Costello, quite able saxophonist made it clear he was in no hurry to leave.

“I’d only written about 20 minutes of questions, but found the last part of our program was the best bit,” he says. “I still spend loads of time researching, but perhaps I’m not the weak conversationalist I thought I was.”

May the Muse be with you… this Friday at 10:00 p.m. on CTV (and for 13 shows in total!)

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The Musical Brain

I read an article in our local weekly about producer Vanessa Dylyn (pictured left with Sting at McGill University) and her latest project, “which mixes neuroscience and music [and] examines what music can tell us about the human brain and the what the brain can tell us about music.”

Dylyn came across the book This is Your Brain on Music by Dr. Daniel Levitin (see my previous posts). She knew it would make the basis for a wonderful documentary straight away and I have to agree (and can’t wait to watch it).

CTV will be airing the documentary, The Musical Brain, this weekend (January 31, 2009 at 7 p.m.). Here is CTV’s description:

Using the research findings of leading medical experts, including Dr. Daniel Levitin (This is Your Brain on Music), the documentary examines the physical, psychological and emotional responses to music through a variety of tests on children and adults. ‘The Musical Brain’ also features candid interviews with Michael Bublé, Feist, Wyclef Jean and Sting who share what they have learned about the power of music in their lives.

In addition to discussing his passion for music, Sting puts his own musical mind to the test when he enters an fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine to have his brain scanned. Inspired by Dr. Daniel Levitin’s book, Sting undergoes tests to find out how music affects him on a physical and emotional level. Using state-of-the-art technology, ‘The Musical Brain’ demonstrates how Sting responds to various types of music – complex and simple – and what his musical brain reveals about him.

“Music is a gateway to emotion and memory, pleasure and intellectual stimulation throughout our lives,” says writer and director Christina Pochmursky. “‘The Musical Brain’follows Sting on his journey of discovery into his own musical brain, and also explores how music can define each stage of our lives.”

“This riveting documentary sheds light on the human musical experience and how science is teaching us more about it,” says Bob Culbert, Vice-President of CTV Documentaries. “The stories shared by the participating artists will resonate with viewers who understand the power of music in their own lives.”

May the Muse (and your brain) be with you…

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Musicshake… and Musicshare!

The Musicshake website declares “Music for Everyone, Created by YOU”. TechCrunch featured the site in an article published earlier today.

The free Musicshake mixing program (Windows platform only, see interface screenshot below) “lets users create personalized, professional sounding music using a variety of modules and pattern-combination methods, which is quite addictive once you get the hang of it (takes about 10 minutes and there are templates to help get you started). You can convert music you make to mp3 and download them to your computer, or convert them into a personalized ringtone. You can also show off music you create to your friends and place it in charts to promote your work to others.”

Musicshake then lets you monetize that creation on its website and share the proceeds with you 50/50. So budding composers, why not check it out. Here’s a video of the proggie in action:

May the Muse-icshake be with you… now go create…

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James Sherwood – Rules of Songwriting

Enjoy this comedy video by comedian James Sherwood on his “Rules of Songwriting”… From a review:

Sherwood sings a series of brilliant songs, and outlines his “rules of songwriting” by brilliantly spoofing everyone from Paul Simon to Guns ‘N’ Roses. He indulges in some brilliant pedantry concerning David Cameron’s “appalling” use of grammar, and then he goes on to talk about how difficult it is to put hecklers down in song, before giving some brilliant examples of how he might go about it.

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