On October 13th, skilled troubadour Harper Simon, who adeptly utilizes the fabled vocal gift inherited from his father Paul Simon, releases his debut album to the world – 10 tracks paying tribute to the hallowed long play format and the seamless arc and structure that it traditionally has brought us when executed correctly.
Harper recorded his new album in Nashville, New York and Los Angeles with a storied cast of collaborators including multi-generational legends that you’ll hear numerous audio fingerprints of throughout the record.
Notable names include legendary producer Bob Johnston (Dylan, Cash, Cohen), as well as gifted talents Inara George, Aaron Espinoza (Earlimart), Petra Haden, Sean Lennon, Yuka Honda, Eleni Mandell, Joan Wasser (Joan as Policewoman), Steve Nieve (Elvis Costello), Steve Gadd; not to mention a large number of Nashville session legends, and naturally, his father Paul Simon.
In one standout track, “Shooting Star” Harper evokes natural imagery seemingly born out of the bedrock, while a slide guitar wanders underneath his haunting vocals, conjuring up memories of groups such as Oregon’s Blitzen Trapper, or the California soul of the Byrds and Mother Hips.
“The Northern Winds have found their home high above the timber line,
but you and I were born to roam to wander through the whistling pines”
Another track, “The Audit” showcases another side of Harper’s vocals, eerily reminiscent of Elliott Smith or even Neil Young, but with the trademark vocals that are familiarly from the Simon vocal tree. While listening my placement of the time frame of recording was somewhat indistinguishable, recollecting another era of recording mixing modern technology with classic sounds and style. The song has a melancholy hum-along feel mixed with what was discerned as flute, horn and violin – superbly placed by the notable producers and Nashville players surrounding the album’s creation.
“You see yourself in photographs from winters past, remembering the days in your hometown”
Other album highlights: “Cactus Flower Rag”, “Wishes and Stars”, and the beautiful and wistful closing track, “Berkeley Girl”. Please see the two highlight videos we’ve selected from his collection below, the first a show at Largo featuring a performance by the Chapin Sisters, as well as a cover version of the Nick Drake track, “From the Morning”.
I first came to know about Emma Jacob through a wonderful person known as “Ms. Nashville” on myspace. Ms. Nashville is in the business of finding and promoting young talent from the area. When I heard Emma’s voice, saw her spirit on stage via videos, and heard her story… I was not only touched, I was blown away. That was two years ago. She has now inked a deal with The Black River Music Group and I just wanted to give her even more exposure on the internet, with sincere hopes that she will soar to even greater heights in the future. That prospect looks mighty promising.
Emma Jacob’s story is an inspiring one. This song and video tell that story, which begins with a cocaine addiction at birth requiring hospitalizations and leading to adoptive parents who loved and supported her through it all. The story brightens even more as her gift for musical expression is discovered and these lyrics pose the question, “What If We Fly“? Well, what if we did Emma? Good question! You already seem to have taken flight. This song is a highly spirited AND ‘spiritual‘ one. There is always a way to get free and reach our greatest potential. The soaring chorus in this song gives my heart and my ears much joy. Oh and did I mention that she is only 18 years old? Watch this! Here she is LIVE as original video has been disabled.
That brings us to our second featured track, entitled “Julianna“, in which listeners are told they don’t need to compromise themselves in order to be loved. The lyrics are important, (even for those of us past the point of adolescence). ~ “Julianna, you don’t have to do that to be loved.” and “Julianna, I wish you knew, you knew, you knew … you were enough.” We get the feeling Emma Jacob will be calling all of her own shots one day. She is a spirited powerhouse with high ambition and the talent to make it happen for a very long time. http://www.youtube.com/user/EmmaMaeJacob#p/f/1/G-M8GyD8WX8
Good songwriting has its place in more than just one genre and the two songs I feature here today contain stories told with such brilliant insight and powerful, golden vocals, … I would not want anyone to miss out on them. This relatively young person writes songs, plays guitar, and sings her heart out on stage with the maturity and understanding of someone much older. These songs should be reaching audiences well outside the confines of the country music arena. Emma co-writes with Karen Staley, who toured with Faith Hill and others. Emma’s talents have been lauded by Paul Worley and Tony Conway, (music producers who have worked with country music’s heavy hitters).
You can find out more about Emma Mae Jacob by following the links below. We hope to bring you continuing news about all of our artists via twitter @apesforindie:
It is hard for me to pick songs to feature when writing about Patty Griffin. Her catalog is like an expansive treasure chest, nestled at the bottom of the sea, waiting to be discovered by those willing to go there.
If you took the time to experience part 1 in my tribute series, then you already know why I have spent so much time featuring this artist’s work. If you missed Part 1 … then perhaps you should go to this link before proceeding: http://bit.ly/Xzujy
Tonight I dove down to visit this songwriter’s treasure chest, (as I have done quite often in my life). The waters were murky and my mood was a bit melancholy so when I came back up to the surface, the song “Rain” became the next featured gem in my tribute series.
This song is from the “1000 Kisses” album. I think each of Patty’s songs are precious jewels, deserving of their own display case.
“And I’m still alive underneath this shroud… praying for rain” …
I have chosen to adorn this blog with a song that came to me at very hard times. I have also chosen to use a Youtube video in which her LYRICS are highlighted and her vocals come to you without video. I wanted you to experience “Rain” … without an umbrella.
And so I stood there, … in awe of what I was hearing on that Autumn day in the year 2000. I was in my best friend’s living room in upstate NY when I heard the utter rawness of “Every Little Bit”. The song left me wondering what had happened in Patty Griffin’s life to inspire such unrestrained vocals, powerful messaging and unforgiving lyrics. I had to hear more and so we settled in with some hot tea and listened to the entire album, entitled: “Living With Ghosts”.
That afternoon’s listening session changed the role that music played in my life. After hearing this tiny redhead belt out gem after gem, I took my first serious interest in writing songs of my own. Up until that time, I was a content singer and hobbyist who would cover the material of others in casual settings. This woman’s gift for writing pointed me in the direction of an artistic life. Her inspiration was tremendous. Each track seemed to speak to me on a highly personal level. But enough about myself… I have heard MANY others say the same thing.
Talk about resonating with your audience! … the surgical precision with which a Patty Griffin song touches your life is nearly psychic in nature. It’s as if she has been watching your life unfold and truly understands it all. What a comfort! … and what a blessing. There is just no other way to describe what Patty does. I have read comments about her shyness as a new performer many years back. I am so grateful she has gotten over that!!! Time has done the talking (-; … and now? … she has become quite the powerhouse on stage, keeping some very good company and packing gorgeous venues.
Here is a very old video of Patty Griffin. Watch for a little while but then just close your eyes and let yourself “feel” her lyrics:
~ “I stay unseen by the light, stay untold by the truth, I am sold by your lies”
~ “There was never a moment, (not a moment) … now you know! now you know! now you know! now you know! … you ever got within a hundred million miles of my soul”
*Stay tuned for Part 2 of this tribute series by the Apes For Indie*
So much has happened in the lives of those of us who remember the beginnings of Michael Jackson. He was someone whose force could not be ignored… even if you were not a fan. He was part of the fabric of our lives and often, the soundtrack of our lives as well. He infiltrated the world’s sound waves and video waves, as well as the depths of our curiosity and playful hearts. He amazed us and confused us at the same time.
I cant help but think today of the magic he has taken with him from the planet. I’ve been trying to examine just why so many people, (including myself), feel so “blue” and sad about the loss of someone we didn’t know personally. His songs will live on so why are we so distraught? I think it is simply because he seemed like a superhero … a somewhat supernatural phenomenon that would never die. Yesterday he did and it’s almost like getting up on Christmas morning at just 4 years old, and having your parents tell you there are no gifts under the tree because there really is NO Santa Claus! That is the only way I can describe this feeling I have. The child in me feels let down by a crashing dream. But is that his fault? No way. We let ourselves fantasize about who this man was. Nothing is indestructible these days… why should he be different?
Michael’s voice, music, dance moves, outfits, and persona, brought us to another place… a place we needed to visit and a place we must now reconsider as only a moment in time. We were just woken from a sweet dream and it is, indeed, heartbreaking. The one who weaved the magic fantasy is gone… no wonder there is a void.
May Michael find all the time to be a little boy now and may he play freely without our eyes judging his every move. He was sort of sacrificial lamb for the world and for the arts… (a form of child labor disguised as something far from a crime). We all watched, we all applauded, we all stood unknowing what damage he was incurring on the inside over the years. Some of us even laughed and judged. In a way, we objectified him… but he helped us to do so. It seems that’s all he ever wanted was love… not love for his “talents”, but love for who he was underneath it all. The only way he thought he could get that love was by entertaining with perfection. What a shame. Love is most certainly pouring forth in abundance now.
I hope all artists, (who tend to be a little different and more sensitive than others), take good care of their bodies and minds so that they don’t leave us terribly early on such a continual basis. The chemical numbing only serves for the short term. We must one day feel our pain and face it or be destroyed by the very chemicals we think are protecting us. The numbness is the enemy… not the feelings we must face. This a dreadful trend that needs to be stopped. I am venturing a guess in this instance but toxicology reports will tell the tale. We must not judge.
Peace from The Apes For Indie
James Maddock’s songs paint many pictures; some of them melancholy, some of them sweet, … but ALL of them just plain memorable! This EPK/video is imbued not only with his great music, but also with powerful imagery of New York city’s grit, mystique, loneliness, and yes, … even romance. Listening to Mr. Maddock’s music made me feel that he had channeled profound experiences into fine art. He also seems to have a soft spot for the place he calls his home. As a native NY’er, I cant help but really understand that (-; Here is your blog mate…
The first track he treats us to is about a very specific ‘moment’ in time. The arrangements are just beautiful and James communicates a very gentle, loving message with a voice that is unmistakably masculine in texture. The time and place he seems to hold in such high regard is the moment of a “Sunrise on Avenue C”. I got the feeling he did not want to leave that time and place. After listening, … neither did I.
The second track briefly visited in this brilliantly done EPK is “When the Stars Align”. Today happens to be an astronomical new moon and yesterday was the summer solstice, (first day of summer). So it is fitting that we blog about James tonight! You will also get a glimpse of James’ personality and songwriting approach in the video. I liked him, (as an artist AND as a person) right after I clicked the (PLAY) button… I’m pretty sure you will too. It’s good to be well-liked as well as mega-talented James! We also think your accent is endearing so congratulations on having it all!
The third song touched upon in the EPK will be posted in it’s complete mp3 format below: “Hollow Love”. Enjoy this amazing journey:
I loved the agitation of the acoustic guitar throughout this song… giving it exciting movement and energy. It is full of hooks too and hints at a sense of humor in lyrics such as, “All night I sit up and ‘drink’ about you”. The love I have for the work of this songwriter is by no means hollow.
Please see the following link for more of James Maddock and his scheduled appearances: http://myspace.com/jamesmaddockmusic
Approximately two years ago, I came across Will Derryberry’s music page on myspace. I think he sent me a friend request… or was it the other way around? I really cannot remember but I DO remember the song that began playing as his page opened up. The introduction set an immediate mood of profound introspection. The best part was… I didn’t know I was being led there because the vocal quality and soul-speak of the lyrics transported me… weightless and unaware. Does this sound dramatic? It was.
I’m writing this blog as I look out of my front window at the Hollywood hills. The sky above is casting June gloom but I find myself energized while I write about this very special songwriter and musician. The depth of lyrical content in the song, “SEVEN” is nothing short of brilliant. I had to find out which symbolic meaning of the number “7” he had drawn his inspiration from.
This led me on a search that ended with Pythagoras, (an ancient Greek philosopher interested in numbers and their meanings). He discovered the relationships between mathematics and music, proposing that sounds and their relationships with other sounds can be measured using numbers. Pythagoras called “7” a perfect number. I don’t know what Will’s reasons were but when you read the lyrics, you’ll see how I drew my hypothesis.
Lyrics ~ “Take these hands, and turn them around, (seven) times.
Pointing in the right direction, leading to perfection”.
Perfect? Well, pretty damn close… listen for yourself!
Hey! I’ll bet you enjoyed that huh? Well, how about a LIVE video of the second featured song? Will is from northern California and has been working hard on his craft up there for many years. He has new material to talk about but I’m hoping you will follow him on twitter @derryberrysongs for the latest news, as well as visiting his other links listed below. Here is Will’s song … “California”.
I like the way he has lightened things up a bit in that song, while continuing to honor his penchant for intimacy with the listener.
In closing, Will has actually done a lot of the work for us by making this video at an earlier time. It nicely weaves his body of work with his stated intentions in a very personal way. You’ll be refreshed to see the genuinely humble nature inside of this artist, despite the fact he has earned several television song placements and a highly polished quality. He has arrived at his stated intention by bringing us to a sort of “restoration” with his songs. I am left to wonder at the end of this video and in closing of this blog, why everyone hasn’t already heard of this guy. So why don’t you spread the word? Maybe one day we will be able to say, “we knew him when”. How exciting!
Find out more about Will Derryberry’s music at the following links:
The Apes just experienced their first critic. This viewpoint came out of the blue on Twitter. He must have caught our tweeting stream by mistake because he was not following us, nor were we following him. He was a music blogger, more experienced than us but not half as nice, (laughing).
The point of writing about this? Well, if you can draw ANYone, even critics in your first (3) weeks of blogging, at least you can say that people are actually reading your heartfelt material. We like the attention… even if it is negative. This ‘gentleman’ didn’t like the fact that we were tweeting @ people, encouraging them to follow us on twitter. We spread our blogs that way. And why do we spread our blogs? … to expose the artists to people who don’t know about them. It’s not about US, … “Mr. music blogger from Illinois”, so you didn’t hurt our feelings. The Apes are just fine after your unsolicited attack (-;
Keep up the good work you are doing in your blogs though, we were very impressed. Just don’t lower yourself again by attacking a ‘fledgling’ blog site that obviously means well and likes to have fun. Let us handle things our way, … the NY way, (in a friendly but aggressive manner). You see… we don’t just expect people to ‘fall’ upon these blogs about our featured artists, we plan on ‘directing’ and ‘inviting’ them in to share our passion in a very direct manner. We wont be apologizing for that and we wont be changing our M.O. any time soon. If the followers on twitter don’t come, at least we know the @’s were noted by the recipients and perhaps they clicked on our site to read the blogs. We have accomplished our goal, followers or not.
What was disturbing about this fellow was that he used very negative and ‘personal’ language in a ‘public’ manner, (which wasn’t constructive at all). If this person had presented himself in a more professional manner via direct message or even by following us, perhaps we could have learned something positive from his ‘expert’ opinion. Instead, we were left wondering what psychological issues he might be facing, which is not why we are here folks.
Peace to all and may you find a bounty of wonderful music via our blogs in the future,
~Apes For Indie~
PS: Please see our most recent blog post. You will see that we mean well:
Then perhaps you will follow us on Twitter too? ha ha!
This newest blog was inspired by what singer/songwriter Amy Kuney has done already at what seems like a pretty young age. I am encouraged by the sense of fun she injects into her songwriting, at almost every turn. It’s refreshing and what I hear leaves me excited about what she will create next. Her vocals are reminiscent of Fiona Apple, but with a spirit that is uniquely her own. I sense a hint of spunk is attached to this songwriter’s persona… but that’s just a guess.
Let’s take her song, “Chocolate”, for instance. I wont post it here. I will only be presenting two songs from each artist in these blogs in the hopes that readers will seek out their websites and youtube videos instead. (See links at bottom of page). Chocolate is quite delicious and dare I say this again? … FUN (-;
You may have already heard Amy’s song, “All Downhill From Here” on a popular television show. This blog is merely a spring-board on your way to discovering Amy’s music. You may want to visit her myspace page for other gifts. I don’t feel that “downhill” is the direction this song-writer is headed in … quite the opposite.
*That brings me to the first track I will formally present in my blog: “Simple Things”.
I love the texture of her voice here. It is so warm and inviting. I love the way this song sings the message. It is quite lovely. Having written songs myself, I can say for a fact that, … songwriting THIS good, is NOT a “simple” thing. I feel she has done a really good job here:
The next song featured is also from her latest effort, A Bird’s Eye View, entitled, “Thank You”.
I love the playfulness in the melody and the delivery here on piano. You will enjoy watching and listening. It really had me singing along.
Well, here are the links to Amy Kuney and her promising world of music. And no Amy, … thank YOU!
*By the way, she is playing at the Hotel Cafe, here in Los Angeles on June the 16th. I might be there.