by Cat Johnson
M.C. Taylor spends a lot of time thinking about God, and spirituality, and religion. As the man behind Hiss Golden Messenger (and The Court and Spark before that), he brings that seeker’s perspective to his music. His songs are full of biblical imagery and language including doves, holy days, chapter and verse, omens, fools, crowns, and good news.
But don’t mistake Taylor for a bible-thumping zealot. As he recently told me, he is just curious about the role of spirituality in our lives and he’s amazed more people don’t spend time thinking and talking about it.
On his latest album, Lateness of Dancers, Taylor continues his exploration into the spiritual side of life. While it’s being touted as his most produced album to date—Hiss Golden Messenger first gained widespread attention with Bad Debt, his 2010 album that was recorded at his kitchen table—it is, nonetheless, a deeply personal, unguarded album.
Recorded in a barn, Lateness of Dancers may sound more polished than past Hiss Golden Messenger offerings, but it remains full of the honesty and grit fans have come to love.
by Cat Johnson
Formed in Alabama way back in 1944, the Blind Boys of Alabama are one of the standout (and longest-running) gospel groups of our time. With tight harmonies, deep grooves and a catalog packed with unexpected tunes, they’ve moved beyond the realm of gospel and entered mainstream consciousness. Here they are rocking Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.”
Here’s Stevie doing the original:
And while we’re on it, here are the Red Hot Chili Peppers taking the song on:
by Cat Johnson
When it comes to New Orleans music, Louis Armstrong is one of the first names that pops up. Satch as he was well known, played an essential role in bringing jazz as we know it into the world—and he did so from his hometown of New Orleans.
In recent times, Dr. John is one of the top-of-mind artists in New Orleans. A charismatic, Crescent City-born multi-instrumentalist and singer, Dr. John is known around the world as an ambassador for New Orleans music.
It comes as no surprise, then, that Dr. John has released, Ske-Day-De-Dat: the Spirit of Satch, to honor the legendary Armstrong; and he’s done so in fine style. Gathering up some heavyweight artists including Bonnie Raitt, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Anthony Hamilton and more, Dr. John pays tribute to Armstrong’s music and legacy.
Kicking things off with Armstrong’s most well-known tune “What a Wonderful World,” the album is packed with standards including “Mack the Knife,” “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” “When You’re Smiling,” “I’ve Got the World On a String,” and the blues favorite, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.”
This week, Sista Monica Parker, a longtime fixture of the Bay Area blues scene and a Santa Cruz favorite passed away at the age of 58.
The Sentinel has a nice write-up of Parker, including the fact that way back in 2003, she was told that she had three months to live. Here she is, the way we’ll all remember her, doing her thing:
It’s been 13 years since the last Aphex Twin album but on September 19th, Richard David James, the man behind the project, remedied that dropping Syro, a retro-futuristic, introspective album full of layered textures, tripped-out beats, synth delights and a sprinkling of moody vocals. If you’re not quite ready for Saturday night to end, Syro is a Sunday morning listen that you can kick back to while still keeping the party going.
For your Sunday morning listening pleasure—and a bit of an early morning mind blow—we present Trombone Shorty holding a single note for four minutes. Yeah, four minutes. NBD.
And for a bonus, here’s Shorty killing it as a 13-year old.