"Un-re-route the rivers ... "

The Newport Jazz Festival is one of New England's shining stars in contemporary and legendary jazz performances. Every year, people from all over the world engage in this community of music that makes an impression on the listener for years to come. The waterside setting of Fort Adams, with all of its history and convenient facilities, make it a destination for summer revelers, some sailing in their boats and docking for the day to join the party. The only negative thing about this great event is choosing among the list of performers who happen to be playing at the same time on different stages. With three venues of world class jazz and cutting edge experimental ensembles in the same place, decisions are tough.

At the 2013 Newport Jazz Fest, I had just finished seeing Esperanza Spalding and was running across the cobblestone path behind the Fort Stage. I darted toward the back field for some surely needed rest and refreshments. Suddenly, I stopped dead in my tracks, making a complete turn around. In this moment, I heard the first tones of a smooth, velvet voice that bellowed over the grasses. Deep bass in vocals and instruments drew me closer and the sax was like a siren calling all near. Forget the break. In the expanse of the sea breezes that day, the spirits of Lou Rawls and Marvin Gaye came alive in jazz forms. It was Gregory Porter and his band. I was fixed.

I was on Facebook this morning when the breaking news feed came across my timeline. "Guitar Icon Rocks The Radio World - Joe Bonamassa Debuts Hot New Radio Show "The Pickup"" I thought to myself, "Joe Bonamassa? New radio program? Brilliant! The Pickup? Brilliant!" A radio program like this is perfect for a guy whojoewalkweb "collects them, plays them and stares at them (guitars)".

Totally excited to learn more, I immediately read the full press release (below) and listened to the 30 minute debut program. It was great to hear Joe's voice again. And Matt's a natural. They were not "geeky" or "technical", but very informative and entertaining.

I liked the program on Facebook and signed up for program alerts, so I don't miss out on one thing. And if you know of someone who might enjoy a program like this, let them know. Yours in music, DebFromMaine Hebert


Independent Music Label J&R Adventures Outflanks Terrestrial Radio Industry

This unique show delivers a creative, entertaining and out-of-the-box program that appeals to guitar players and music lovers alike Los Angeles, CA, August 2, 2013: Today, one of the world's most popular guitarists and blues-rock stars Joe Bonamassa and co-host Matt Abramovitz (formerly of Sirius Satellite Radio's blues channel) debut their brand new weekly radio show The Pickup, an entirely unique and highly entertaining show blending music history, carefully curated songs, an encyclopedic knowledge of guitar facts, and illuminating insights into the world of a musician. Whether it's unusual knowledge of a vintage Les Paul played on an obscure record from the 70s, or a friendly debate on how to name your guitar, each episode weaves together witty banter, fun facts, and amazing stories from the road and the life of a working musician. The show will be streamed every Friday at www.thepickupradio.com and episodes will be available to stream anytime. Listen to the debut episode now.

Each week, listeners will brought behind the scenes with delicious tidbits on all things music and guitar, with stories and history, discussions of select artists and their best work; specific instruments, and the music those artists play on their instruments. Every episode will be different, and theme shows for major holidays will be peppered in with general topics and regular segments, like Matt's favorite called "Name That Guitar." Matt explains: "I'll bring in three tracks and ask Joe to identify the guitars used on the recordings. Joe will rattle off not only the guitar used, but also the amps, the pedals, the recording engineer and the street address of the studio. It's what separates the fan from the fanatic!"

Featured music will focus on blues and classic rock from both sides of the pond including favorites like Eric Clapton, BB King, Freddie King, Johnny Winter and Jeff Beck, as well as deep tracks, new and little-known artists, up-and-comers, and more.

The concept for The Pickup came about through the duo's fascination with the artists who can take an inanimate object made from metal and wood, and give it a human heart. The show's title is a name that resonated for a number of reasons. It's what makes an electric guitar electric, and it's exactly what Joe and Matt hope fans will experience: listen to this program and pickup some music, some laughs and maybe some knowledge, too. The show aims to be more than your average radio program - focusing on music education, discovery and enlightenment, and helping people to learn about music and musicians they may not yet know.

In partnership with Amazon's affiliate program, songs played during episodes of The Pickup will be available for purchase, with all proceeds going directly to Bonamassa's non-profit Keeping The Blues Alive. The Pickup is sponsored by Guitar World, Guitar Player, and Blues Music Magazine.

After Bonamassa's weekly radio shows were canceled, first on Sirius Satellite Radio (Daily Cup of Joe) during the merger with XM, and more recently on UK's Planet Rock, J&R Adventures, the label Bonamassa founded with longtime manager Roy Weisman, looked to other radio networks for a replacement. With over half a million direct fans, they discovered the size of Bonamassa's social and fan network exceeded the outreach terrestrial radio could provide for them and decided instead to do the show in-house and release it independently.

Weisman explains, "Every time they said 'no,' we said 'yes,' which at the end of the day creates a bigger opportunity for the artist."

This project is yet another example of how J&R Adventures, a record label with divisions in publishing, management, and memorabilia, is branding itself as a disruptive and independent entity in the music business. By vertically integrating its business to meet the needs of the artist and the fans, it gives control to the artist and its management directly, rather than to a handful of outside individuals. The result is the ability to release multiple projects year after year, from Bonamassa solo records, to side projects and collaborations, to non-profits, merchandising, fan clubs, and more. The company consistently devises new ways to stay nimble and compete in today's vastly different music landscape.

About Joe Bonamassa

As Joe Bonamassa approaches his 25th year as a professional musician, he continues to blaze a remarkably versatile artistic trail, and amass an authentic, innovative and soulful body of work. Bonamassa's career began onstage opening for B.B. King in 1989, when he was only 12 years old. Today, he is hailed worldwide as one of the greatest guitar players of his generation, and is an ever-evolving singer-songwriter who has released 15 solo albums in the last 13 years, all on his own label, J&R Adventures. Bonamassa's tour schedule consistently hovers at around 200 shows worldwide each year, and a heaping handful of markedly diverse side projects keep him thinking outside the box and flexing every musical muscle he's got. He founded and oversees the non-profit Keeping The Blues Alive Foundation to promote the heritage of the blues to the next generation, fund music scholarships, and supplement the loss of music education in public schools. There's a case to be made that Joe Bonamassa, like another star who shared the same initials, is the hardest working man in show business.

Spencer Albee: Spencer

Don't let this gruff exterior fool you one minute. Spencer Albee's being himself! For over 20 years, the multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter (and producer) has entertained alternative, indie-rock and pop fans with his high-energy, Beatle-esque infused, sound. As a consumate frontman, he knows how to play to the crowd and leave everyone screaming for one more song. Other musical influences include Jeff Lynne (ELO), The Who, David Bowie, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin and Beck.

To his merit, Albee has toured the US and Canada in support of 13 studio albums with Rustic Overtones, As Fast As (Rocktopus), The Popsicko, Space Versus Speed, and Spencer and the Schoolstreet Mafia.  Plans to record his first solo album surfaced in summer 2012. "Let's make an album," his Pledge Music profile read. After a successful financial drive, the highly anticipated "Spencer" is released in less than one year, on July 9, 2013. Albee says of this particular project, "It's me. Melancholy. Something I'm proud of."

My thoughts...

First, thank you, Lee, for putting a (signed) copy of "Spencer" in my hands and on my "must listen" list. I enjoyed the initial play through very much, but did not fully appreciate the immense production value until the 3rd and 4th listens. Because "Spencer" is stuck in my car stereo (literally!), I've heard it at least 10 times by now. An omen, I guess.♥

I marvel at songwriters and their intrinsic ability to illustrate emotions and events in such a way that each song is a short story, one with a beginning, middle and end. Albee tackles serious subjects here, addressing relationships, love and loss, miscommunication and compromise, trust and doubt, and even his own death. From track #2, "Lucky", I found the phrase, "We act like two lions in a cage," an intelligent description of an argument. Then a question about living conditions in the afterlife, "Can I take my bigTV to the great beyond?", from the tongue and cheek "When Will I Die?", had me giggling aloud and pondering my own demise. The lyrical content is candid, creative, sophisticated, and whimsical, putting Albee in the big league. 

"Spencer" is jam-packed with layers of instrumentation, keyboard-driven melodies, digital affects and meticulously sung harmonies. The uptempo lead track, "It's Alive", sets the pace for the next 45 minutes. Albee's pop vocal tone and articulation are spot on. The hook, "Hey, hey, I...Hey, hey, I.." is infectious and the perfect crowd sing-a-long. What's more, the musical score is featured in Portland, Maine's recent tourism campaign video.

Staying true to his roots, Albee encorporates orchestral and choral arrangements (like in so many Beatles and Electric Light Orchestra hit songs) into several numbers. There are bursts of strings, horns and harmonies that give the music character and texture, but then there are more complex sequences, complete with solos, which must've required the presence of a conductor for the full-on ensemble of 25 singers and 40 collaborating musicians. Oh...and if you're a fan of horns, pay close attention to the saxophone solo 3/4 way through "Lucky". I've never heard a sax respond like this. It gave me goosebumps.♥

I've grown especially fond of "California's Calling", the first single and "cornerstone" for the album. “On every record I do, there’s always one song that’s a catalyst for the whole record,” said Albee. "You kinda get onto a new sound or vibe and you just know that’s where you’ll live. The first song I wrote with that inspiration was “California’s Calling”." Albee's breathy vocal, the weepish, pedal steel guitar, and video, tug at the heartstrings. CALIFORNIA'S CALLING

Initially, the cover of Gordon Lightfoot's 1974 hit "Sundown" seemed out of place to me, especially amid nine original compositions. Why this song? On this album, I wondered? But as I paid closer attention and really examined the music, I found the digital distortion, keyboard and strings extremely innovative. An approach Bowie or Beck might take? I closed my eyes and let the atmospheric and psychedelic mood expand my mind. By songs end, I envisioned his soul (the male character's) hovering over the back staircase, waiting for Sundown. (Darn imagination!) I must add, the new version was well recieved by fans at the CD release party, held July 20, 2013 at Port City Music Hall.

The public support has been overwhelming, marking one ofAlbee's best works to date. "Spencer" is the #1 selling album at Bull Moose Records (his biggest release in 10 years). It's the talk of local TV and radio stations WCSH, WPXT, WCLZ and WHSN. Both Bangor Daily News and The Phoenix have printed favorable reviews.Lastly, I could go on and on about "Spencer" and what I like, but feel it's important for the listener to form their own opinion, too. I encourage multiple listens, though.

To preview songs, check out iTunes. Download tracks via iTunes, Spotify and Amazon. Hardcopy CD (and I think vinyl) available at Bull Moose Records (in-store locations, Maine and New Hampshire, or on-line http://www.bullmoose.com/). And lest not forget that 'music fans' are consumers; the choices we make matters. So...if you dig "Spencer", please, spread the good word. Independent artists, musicians and bands need support more than ever before. To follow Spencer Albee, and any of his bands, check out Facebook  and Twitter.

Yours in music,

DebFromMaine Hebert












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