Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Fortune’s Favour

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

The new Great Big Sea album is available on iTunes. Woohoo!

UPDATE: So far, so good; I’ve listened to tracks 1-4 and 7. "Banks of Newfoundland" is, as I thought it might be, quite dissimilar from (and probably more authentic than!) the Irish Rovers’ version; the lyrics are roughly the same, but they’re set to a completely different tune. It doesn’t have the same hairy-chested, belt-it-out feel as the Rovers’ version (or, for that matter, as some other GBS songs like "General Taylor," "Captain Kidd," "The Old Black Rum," etc.), but I still like it, I think. I’ll have to listen to it a bunch more times to decide for sure. :)

One song I definitely like is track #3, "England," which contains the lyric that gave rise to the album’s title, "Fortune’s Favour." It’s a very neat little ditty about the first English settlers who came to Newfoundland (or "the New Found Land," as the island was originally known, and as the song initially describes it). "England" has good lyrics, beautiful harmonies, and some nice little nuanced touches in the way the song evolves and the way the boys sing it.

P.S. Appropriately enough — and, come to think of it, this is probably intentional on Great Big Sea’s part — today is the anniversary of the date in 1497 when John Cabot landed in Newfoundland*, becoming the first European to since the Vikings to reach North America’s shores. (Hat tip: My Adversaria.)

*Probably. Various other locations, including Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, claim he landed there rather than in Newfoundland. But it was most likely in Newfoundland, at Cape Bonavista.

Holy stone and sand

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Great Big Sea’s new album, Fortune’s Favour, debuts tomorrow — and I just noticed that Track 7 is "Banks of Newfoundland," which happens to be the first Newfoundland song that I ever learned! The chorus, as it’s sung by the Irish Rovers (iTunes link here), goes like this:

We’ll rub her ’round and scrub her ’round
With holy stone and sand,
And we’ll say farewell to the Virgin Rocks
On the Banks of Newfoundland!

My father had (and presumably still has) a vinyl record of the 1969 Irish Rovers album The Life of the Rover, which had "Banks of Newfoundland" on it, and he would play it frequently on our old record player when I was a little kid. It was one of my favorites; I used to love singing that chorus when I was, oh, maybe 5 years old. :) I was also a big fan of the end of the final verse — "And to the docks, they come in flocks / The pretty girls will stand / Sayin’ it’s snugger with me than it is at sea / On the banks of Newfoundland!" — though of course I had no idea what those lyrics meant. ;) In the words of Grandpa Loomer, albeit referring to a different bawdy Irish tune that I famously sung at an even earlier age: "What kind of song is that for a three-year-old?" Heh.

Anyway, as is typical for traditional Irish/Maritime music, there are various different versions of the lyrics floating around, and probably different tunes, too. The snippet of an early Great Big Sea demo of "Banks of Newfoundland" that’s played in Webisode 11, Part 1, from 5:32 to 6:20, certainly sounds very different from the version I know. (Hat tip: Between The Rock And A Hard Place.) So I really don’t know what Track 7 of Fortune’s Favour will sound like. But I can’t wait to find out! The prospect of hearing my favorite band belt out the hearty chorus of a song that I’ve known for almost my entire life, a childhood favorite, makes me even more excited than I already was for tomorrow’s big debut.

I’ll definitely be using a portion of one of my Father’s Day presents from Becky — an iTunes gift certificate — to buy the album tomorrow. Great Big Sea rocks!

P.S. After the jump, I’ve posted the lyrics of the Irish Rovers’ version of "Banks of Newfoundland," since I couldn’t find that particular lyrical rendition online anywhere.


Wrong state

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

WDVX just played a song called “Satan Lives In Arkansas.” But that isn't right. She moved to New York! :)

Fighting fire with fire

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

A California blogger fights back against the noise pollution emanating from a nearby Cadillac Escalade that was blasting vulgar rap music "loud
enough to be heard a block away" … by cranking up his own car stereo system and blasting the Clancy Brothers.

I ramped up the volume to "11" and let the boys rip into their version of "Whiskey in the Jar" from nigh-on 45 years ago. … Maybe it was the line about
producing my pistol, and then producing my rapier, but after a couple
of minutes, my problem was solved. No more boom-boom from said Escalade.


Noonan on Wright

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

Peggy Noonan compares Jeremiah Wright to the Wolfe Tones. A must-read.

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan.)

Respect the world champion SoCal VoCals!

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Back in 2002, I griped in print that the Daily Trojan was ignoring the SoCal VoCals’ newsworthy march to musical glory. (For the uninitiated, the VoCals are USC’s premier a capella group, and I am a proud ex-groupie.) That year, alas, they fell just short of the International Championship of Collegiate A Capella finals. But six years and a world championship later, the VoCals are finally getting some front-page DT love.

Here’s the article. Money quote: "It was absolutely beyond any of our wildest dreams," baritone Adam Hutchison said of the group’s performance Saturday in New York City, which earned them the ICCA title (and a live appearance on the Today show Sunday morning).

The DT notes that the VoCals’ winning set included Michael
Buble’s "Feeling Good," Singers Unlimited’s "All the Things You Are"
and Queen’s "Somebody to Love." The A Capella Blog described it as "probably the best competition set I’ve ever seen," and the judges seemed to agree, giving it a whopping 454 out of a possible 465 points. For comparison purposes, the ICCA champs in 2007, 2006 and 2005 won with scores of 431, 422 and 372, respectively. Moreover, 454 points is the second-highest score of this entire ICCA season — second only to the VoCals’ own near-perfect 463 performing the same set in the semifinals. The 437 earned by Florida State University All-Night Yahtzee at the South semifinal is a distant third. (All-Night Yahtzee finished a very distant second at Saturday’s final, with a 384.)

No cameras were allowed in the Lincoln Center for Saturday’s final, but YouTube has video of the entire Western Regional semifinal, including the VoCals’ 463-point set. So here, without further ado, are the three songs that brought home an ICCA world championship to USC:

Fight on, VoCals!

P.S. And speaking of "Fight on," here, in the interest of school spirit, is a video from this past fall of the VoCals performing their signature medley of the Alma Mater, Tusk, and Fight On, with a SoCal Spellout and some "UCLA SUCKS" thrown in good measure:

SoCal VoCals are world champs!!

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

The International Championship of Collegiate A Capella was tonight in New York City. I don’t know yet how the SoCal VoCals did. I assume The A Cappella Blog will have results up soon. Go VoCals!!!


Congratulations, VoCals!!!

UPDATE 2: The A Capella Blog writes: “The SoCal VoCals’ winning set gave them perhaps the best-deserved victory I’ve ever seen at an ICCA show. This is the sort of set that needs to be seen to be believed and I am proud to have been a witness to something truly fantastic. Believe the hype — this was probably the best competition set I’ve ever seen.”

SoCal VoCals update

Friday, April 11th, 2008

The field is set for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella in New York City next Saturday! The event will be held at the Lincoln Center‘s Avery Fisher Hall, the 2,738-seat venue where the New York Philharmonic plays.

As I mentioned previously, the USC SoCal VoCals advanced to the finals for the first time ever by earning the West Region championship on March 15. At the time I wrote that, however, the identities of most of their competitors were still to be determined.

Well, the last semifinal was held six days ago, so now the full field is known. The VoCals will compete against Oxford University Out of the Blue (Western Europe champion), Northwestern University Purple Haze (Midwest champion), Florida State University All-Night Yahtzee (South champion), New York University N’Harmonics (Northeast champion) and Ithaca College Ithacappella (Mid-Atlantic champion).

You hear that, Kristy? USC vs. Ithaca! Oh, it’s ON!!

Fight on, Trojans! Beat the Seminoles, Wildcats, Violets, Bombers and… um… Oxons?

P.S. Here’s the official ICCA website, including a link to buy tickets. I wish I could go! Alas, I don’t think a random trip to New York City is in the cards. But if any of y’all are in the area, I’d recommend it. I’m sure it’ll be an amazing show.

P.P.S. Newly discovered site: The A Cappella Blog. Cool.

Brennan on the Moor

Monday, April 7th, 2008

I linked yesterday to a YouTube clip of Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy singing "Rambles of Spring." That’s just one of a whole new treasure trove of Clancy/Makem video clips that have been recently uploaded to YouTube. You might recall that I posted a bunch of clips last August, after Makem’s death, but a lot of new videos have appeared since then. Here’s another one, a real oldie but goodie, showing a much younger foursome singing "Brennan on the Moor" in 1963:

That, incidentally, is — like the Kingston Trio’s "M.T.A." — one of my favorite songs to sing to Loyette. Hey, just because I’m a lawyer doesn’t mean I can’t teach my daughter a "good, healthy disrespect for law!" Hee hee. Actually, I just like singing it to her because it’s fun, bouncy and repetitive. No doubt I’ll regret this when she gets a little older and, just like I did when I was little, starts bursting out in bawdy Irish songs at inappropriate moments. :) History repeats itself in the new generation…

Rambles of spring

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Ever since I saw (and photographed) the above-pictured robin en route home from work on March 6, I’ve been meaning to put together a "springtime in Knoxville" photo gallery for the blog. There are a ton of beautiful flowers, trees and other lovely signs of spring in this part of the world. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to make the album yet, but I hope to do so soon.

I’ll definitely have a lot more material to work with after today, as Becky, Loyette and I ventured out to the Crescent Bend Tulip Time festival this afternoon, then walked three miles along the riverfront, snapping photos all the way. Here’s one pic from the tulip gardens:

Very pretty. It was an absolutely gorgeous day here, and it looks like a very nice week ahead. It all puts me in mind of the song "Rambles of Spring," one of my favorite Makem & Clancy numbers — of which, conveniently enough, I found a YouTube clip recently. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has some nice pictures from yesterday as well.

Hillary’s 3 a.m. problem

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Mark Steyn:

Jeepers, will all business during this Clinton administration be transacted at 3 a.m.? Is it some union-negotiated flex-time deal? “Home foreclosures mounting”? We’d better wake the president. There are now so many foreclosures the banks can no longer foreclose on everyone they need to foreclose on during normal banking hours. “The First National Bank of Dead Skunk, Maine, has begun issuing midnight foreclosure notices, Madam President.”

“OK, nuke ’em.”

“Er, well, maybe this can wait till the regular afternoon meeting.”

It’s 3 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep. But there’s a phone ringing in the White House. And ringing and ringing and ringing. Kim Jong-il No Dong missiles are heading for every major West Coast city, but the president’s not picking up because at 2:57 a.m. the Secretary for Soccer Moms called to alert her to the growing crisis caused by the lack of federally mandated children’s bicycling helmets.

Heh. (Hat tip: InstaPundit.)

P.S. On a more serious note, it looks like Hillary has been “misspeaking” again:

Over the last five weeks, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has featured in her campaign stump speeches the story of a health care horror: an uninsured pregnant woman who lost her baby and died herself after being denied care by an Ohio hospital because she could not come up with a $100 fee. …

[H]ospital administrators said Friday that Ms. Bachtel was under the care of an obstetrics practice affiliated with the hospital, that she was never refused treatment and that she was, in fact, insured.

“We implore the Clinton campaign to immediately desist from repeating this story,” said Rick Castrop, chief executive officer of the O’Bleness Health System.

The idea of Hillary using the (false) tale of someone dying because they couldn’t pay a $100 fee reminds me a bit of that wonderful old campaign ballad, The M.T.A. Song. But instead of “Fight the fare increase, vote for George O’Brien!” I guess now it’s “Fight the premium increase, vote for Hillary Clinton!” Heh. Hillary descends further and further into self-parody…

P.P.S. Video of the M.T.A. Song:

I sing that song to Loyette all the time. :)

P.P.P.S. For those not familiar with the song, they actually did a lyrical switcheroo in the final verse in the above clip. You can view the real lyrics here. It’s supposed to be “Fight the fare increase, vote for George O’Brien! And get Charlie off the M.T.A.! Or else he’ll never return…”

SHA girl needs your votes!

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Since I was being mean to Buffalo yesterday, I figured I should do something nice for a Buffalo native this morning. And, conveniently enough, one of Becky’s high-school classmates needs my, and your, help!

Sara Crowther (née Alpsan) is competing in the "Be a Milk Rock Star with Rascal Flatts" contest. She uploaded a video of herself singing "God Bless the Broken Road," and it’s currently ranked 14th out of 219 entries, based on viewers’ votes. That’s up from like 85th or something when I first checked! You can help keep that momentum ("Crow-mentum"?) going by clicking the above link and voting for Sara!

Sara doesn’t need to finish first — she just needs to crack the Top 10 by April 15. Then Rascal Flatts and will pick the winner from the Top 10 entries. Whoever they choose will, according to the contest rules,  "win
a trip for them, and three friends, to see the band live and perform
their song entry onstage with Rascal Flatts; a Gibson Les Paul Studio
Guitar autographed by Rascal Flatts; their own backstage dressing room,
a meet and greet with the band; VIP accommodations to and from the
concert on the Gibson Guitar Tour Bus and a webcast featuring their
performance aired for 30 days on"

So anyway… vote for Sara! Here’s her video:

Captain Ed on “real” Irish music

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey (the guy who beat me for "Blogger of the Year" in 2005) and the Michelle Malkin-founded site Hot Air are usually good sources for right-wing political commentary — not Irish music nerdery. And yet Irish music nerdery is exactly what I found there, to my great delight, thanks to my Google News Alert for "’barra macneils’ | ‘liam clancy’ | ‘tommy makem’ | ‘clancy brothers’." Here what Ed wrote on the topic, they day before St. Paddy’s Day*:

“Danny Boy” is a beautiful, haunting song … the first thousand times you hear
After that, it gets pretty tiresome, and even more so to those in the Old
Country who tire of supplying renditions of it for American tourists. Irish
music consists of much more than “the pipes, the pipes are calling” and “I’ll
take you home again, Kathleen” — which owe more to America than Ireland. …

The Irish tolerate Danny Boy and the other “Irish songs” of America, but only
just. When my uncle visited Ireland almost 30 years ago, he asked one publican
where he could hear authentic Irish music. The Irishman asked, “Oh, you mean
like Danny Boy and I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen?” “Yes,” my uncle said.
“Nearest place I know is Boston,” came the reply. …

If you want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with some authentic Irish music, try
listening to The Chieftains, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, Lunasa, The
Corrs, or even U2.

Hear, hear! (Morrissey later added the Pogues and The Dubliners to his list. I’d add the
Wolfe Tones, the Irish Rovers and, for a rather different but still related style,
Flogging Molly. And then you can branch out into Irish-inspired Atlantic Canadian bands like Great Big Sea, the Barra MacNeils, etc.)

I have to make a confession, though. For all my nodding in agreement with Captain Ed and making fun of the "sort of maudlin stuff that Bing Crosby sang," yesterday I totally cued up "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" on my iPod and, in unison with ol’ Bing, sang it to my shamrock-clad baby girl, in honor of St. Paddy’s Day. I feel so… dirty. :) But hey: she does have really beautiful Irish eyes. And when they’re smiling, they’ll steal your heart away!

Hey, sometimes it’s okay to be maudlin. :)

(Relevant background for those who haven’t read it: "Tommy Makem, 1932-2007 … and what he means to me." More here.)

*Or the day after St. Paddy’s Day, depending on your perspective.

SoCal VoCals win West Region title!

Monday, March 17th, 2008

For the first time ever, the USC SoCal VoCals are going to collegiate a capella’s version of the Final Four: the ICCA International Finals in New York City!

Over the weekend, the VoCals won the ICCA semifinal — basically the Western regional championship — at Marin Center for the Performing Arts in San Rafael, California, beating out the University of Oregon Divisi, the UCLA ScatterTones (ha ha! take that, Mike Tran!), defending national champion BYU Noteworthy, BYU Vocal Point, the Cal-Berkeley Golden Overtones, Mt. San Antonio College Fermata Nowhere, and These Guys from Fullerton and Citrus colleges. (Full results here; scroll down to "ICCA West Region.")

The VoCals’ previous best finish at the ICCA semis was second place in 2001, and they’ve finished third four times: in 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2006. Long-time readers might recall that I trailed the VoCals for a photojournalism project — producing, among others, this photo — during their 2002 third-place ICCA appearance, and later wrote about it in a Daily Trojan opinion article analogizing the competition to March Madness, with which it always roughly coincides.

Anyway, on April 19, this year’s crop of SoCal VoCals will compete for the international championship of collegiate a capella (that’s what ICCA stands for, natch) against the Northwestern University Purple Haze (Midwest Region champs), Oxford University Out of the Blue (Western Europe champs), and as-yet undetermined champions from the South, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

Fight on, SoCal VoCals!! Beat those other schools!! Wooo!!

A free musical treat

Friday, March 7th, 2008

HUGE crowd at the WDVX Blue Plate Special today for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra's string quartet and, in the show's second half, renouned Cape Breton Island fiddler Natalie MacMaster. So cool.