New Music

The Best Tips for Packing for a Concert

Written on September 20, 2017   By   in Packing Tips


Whether you’re a frequent concertgoer or if you’ve never had the ability to see your favorite musician live, it’s always best to make sure you’re well prepared. This is particularly true if you’re attending a concert that is relatively far away from home or a festival that you’ll need to travel for. From the New Orleans Jazz Festival to Coachella, there are hundreds of music festivals held around the world every year. To have the best time imaginable you’re going to need to have access to the perfect luggage, the right amount of clothes, and a variety of other necessities you may not think about.

1. Choosing Your Luggage

The first step to getting all of your things together is to make sure that you choose the right luggage for the trip. There are dozens of different types of bags and suitcases you can find from reliable retailers. Before making your final purchasing decision, consider the different styles of suitcases and duffel bags on the market. You can find great info about various types of luggage at Luggage on Tour, Sears, Dillards, etc.

Duffel Bags: If you’re only going away for a couple of days and don’t feel like checking a bag on an airplane or taking up most of your trunk with clothing, duffel bags are the perfect option. They’re compact, classy, and easy to carry around. You can find duffel bags from different companies including airlines, designer labels, and many more.

Spinner Suitcases: Equipped with wheels on the end of the bag, spinner suitcases are convenient if you know you’re going to be doing a lot of walking. You won’t have to worry about tilting your bag onto the wheels or carrying all of your heavy belongings.

Hard Shell Suitcases: If you’re traveling to your concert with a lot of valuable merchandise, hard shell suitcases are phenomenal for protecting your goods. This is particularly important if you intend on buying merchandise from your favorite musician such as vinyl records.

2. Pack Only What You Need

There’s nothing more inconvenient than traveling and realizing that you have far too many things to easily bring with you from your car to the hotel or from the hotel to the venue. If you’re simply traveling to a local venue for a concert, all you’re going to need space for is a change of clothes and any food or beverages you want to consume before going into the venue. Whereas if you’re taking a long trip, try to bring one outfit for each day and then a spare outfit just in case.

3. Bring Warmer Clothes

This will depend on the type of climate you live in or are traveling to. It’s always beneficial to bring warmer clothes such as a thick cardigan or sweater, especially if your concert or festival is outdoors and held in the evening. You’re going to want to make sure that you’re comfortable during the entire event; otherwise, you’re going to miss out on the sheer joy of watching your favorite performers.

Worst case if you find you’re getting too hot from dancing and singing, you can wrap the sweater or long sleeve shirt around your waist as seen on many celebrities including Rihanna and Kanye West.

4. Don’t Forget Your Wallet and Phone

Above all else, it’s best if you don’t forget your wallet and phone at home, as they’re 2 of the most important things you’ll need. Your wallet is not only your identification, but it’s also what you’re going to need to buy merchandise or confirm your tickets when you get to the venue. Also, your phone will be your main method of communication with the other people you’re attending the concert with. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so ensure that you pack your wallet and phone the night before your trip.

With the dozens of genres of music in the world, there’s seemingly always a concert or festival happening somewhere. If you’re a fan of live entertainment, making sure that you choose the perfect suitcase, pack properly, and remember your wallet and phone are incredibly important. For more tips on how to pack effectively for music festivals, take a look at this guide from Alaska Airlines.

5 of the Best Folk Music Albums of 2017

Written on July 8, 2017   By   in General Music Facts

Different genres of music albums are available in well-known online platforms – this much we know from the days of Napster and more recently, streaming media services such as Spotify and YouTube. We are truly living in the age of on-demand streaming media that is changing the face of how we consume media. And, to borrow a phrase from Oven Shopper, these streaming services, like many of our appliances nowadays, all compete tooth and nail – consumers opt for the service that provides extra value to their needs.

But the music is still the meat of the matter. And in 2017, folk music is making a strong comeback.

With that in mind, we’ve come up with a sampling of 5 choice folk music cuts for those who are more discerning in their music tastes – these music albums are recommended for everyone who seeks peace of mind and enjoyment throughout on their leisure time. Because, for reasons that are not unknown to many music lovers, folk music evokes a time wherein you didn’t need more than a good song and a guitar to make compelling music – screw whatever crap is playing on the airwaves, these 5 acts are the real deal; and they are making folk music, and music in general, great again.

1. Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked at Me

Starting off our list is Mount Eerie’s compelling work, A Crow Looked at Me. Mount Eerie is a solo project from a American musician Phil Elverum, and presents a harrowing, first-person look at a common theme of folk music – that of death. And Elverum does not disappoint – his plaintive arrangements and sing-song delivery just makes it all the more so compelling. It discusses the death of his wife, musician and cartoonist Genevieve Castree. “Real Death”, the first single of A Crow Looked at Me album was first released on his SoundCloud page, and is definitely the album’s standout track. Truly one of the best folk releases of 2017.

2. Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up

fleet-foxes-crack-upCrack-Up is the new folk music album from Washington-based electric folk band Fleet Foxes. This folk music album was recorded in different locations throughout the nation, and its standout track is undoubtedly the nine-minute epic, string-enhanced “Third of May/Odaigahara” which features electric twelve-string guitar, piano and the trademark sparkling harmonies of this group.

3. Jesca Hoop – Memories Are Now

Memories Are Now is one of the most renowned folk music albums of 2017. This music album from Jesca Hoop makes every listener more contented than ever – her ethereal vocals, songwriting, and electronic elements all contribute to a very unique sound, while discussing song material that is resonant with every human being; which is why folk music was called folk music anyway.

4. Big Thief – Capacity

Capacity is a set of excellent, haunting, and cavernous-sounding folk music from Big Thief. This album explores themes of trauma, family, sadndess, and depression, whose production makes sure the album will strike a chord with everyone – singer Adrianne Lenker’s languid, ethereal delivery notwithstanding. A very underrated folk album that deserves more recognition than it currently does.

5. Julie Byrne – Not Even Happiness

And rounding out the list, and last, but obviously not the least, “Not Even Happiness” is American-born singer-songwriter Julie Byrne’s second release. Basic Rock in the UK has released this folk music album on 13 January 2017, while Ba Da Bing! Records in the U.S. released the later version of this album on 27 January 2017. Fans of folk music’s spare arrangements in the vein of Bon Iver (with occasional embellishments) will love this album, whose standout track is “Melting Grid” – Byrne’s delivery reminds most listeners of German chanteuse Nico’s haunting vocals.

Newbie to the Glorious Vinyl Format? Read This Before You Start on Your Journey

Written on January 29, 2017   By   in General Music Facts

vinyl-recordsNothing sounds better than crisp, clear, and warm vinyl – any audiophile will tell you that. The appeal of vinyl is enduring – and thanks to its recent resurgence, vinyl has seen it outlive the very formats that sought to remove it entirely from historical records. They’re durable, big, and charming pieces of the past, that will continue to be with us in the future.

While vinyl records are the most long lasting physical music formats, they require good care and protection from the elements in order to preserve their sound quality, avoid surface noise, warping or scratches as well as prolong their service life. This involves employing the proper storage, cleaning and handling techniques to keep your records in pristine condition and enjoy them for years to come.

Here are useful tips to help you in your record care.

Proper Storage

  • When storing vinyl records, the following storage tips should be employed religiously:
    Store records vertically not on top of each other. There should be no leaning.
  • Vertical storage of records is best achieved on strong shelves that won’t buckle easily.
  • Ensure that the shelves holding your vinyl records are in a clean area away from moisture and direct sunlight or heat the latter which causes warping. If you live in an area that sees a lot of humidity, you may consider purchasing a dehumidifier, as a dehumidifier treats the dampness present in its surroundings – and thusly perfect for your vinyl.

Proper Handling

Records are played on turntables and in order to do so require handling to place them there. Before placing the record on your turn table, ensure the turn table is clean then handle them in this recommended manner:

  • Tilt the sleeve holding your record such that the record slides out and hold it by inserting your finger in its centre hole without letting your hands touch its surface. This prevents you from leaving sweat or body oil on the surface.
  • Once you remove the finger, hold it using both hands where contact is on the outside edges only then transfer it to your record player.

Proper Care and Cleaning

  • Clean your record both on the inside and outside surfaces to prevent damage by dust. Use a record cleaning brush or a soft lint-free cloth that is not static and clean with the groove instead of against it.
  • In cases where there is dirt or mould, wet your cloth or brush using distilled water mixed with record cleaning solution and use it to clean the groove avoiding the label, rinse and let it dry vertically before returning it to its sleeve or jacket.
  • Remove the shrink wrap and store them in high density polyethene sleeves.
  • Replace old sleeves over time.
  • Clean the turntable regularly using a dry cloth or a vacuum in case it is made of felt mat. This protects your record from getting dust transferred on as well as plays the records more smoothly.

Using the proper storage, handling and cleaning techniques will help preserve your vinyl records from elements that can cause scratching, warping, wear and terrible sound quality. They instead will keep your records in great condition playing beautiful notes for a long time – possibly lifetimes over.

Get to Know Some of the World’s Most Influential Opera Composers

Written on November 20, 2016   By   in Legends & Icons

opera-composersA classical music genre that originated in Italy at the end of 1500s, opera is an art form that continues to flourish up to this day. At present, a lot of people still listen to opera music — whether they are working out in the gym, preparing food in the kitchen or reducing the bluntness of the blades of their cutting knives.

Below are some of the most distinguished opera icons throughout our history:

Jacopo Peri

Born in 1561 in Rome, Italy, Jacopo Peri was a singer and composer who is frequently referred to as the inventor of opera. His first opera piece is called Dafne, which he created in 1589. Another one of his work, Euridice, was made in 1600 and is the first opera to have stood the test of time and survives up to this day.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Considered to be among the most prolific composers of the Classical era, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756 in Salzburg, Austria. He was a child prodigy who performed all over Europe. Among his most notable works are Requiem, The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, Cosi fan tutte, Ave verum corpus, Piano Sonata No. 11, and Clarinet Concerto.

Gioachino Rossini

An Italian composer born in Pesaro, Papal State on February 29, 1792, Gioachino Rossini wrote chamber and sacred music, piano and instrumental pieces, and operas. He was the most popular opera composer in the world until 1829, the year he retired. His most critically acclaimed opera piece is The Barber of Seville, which was first performed at Rome’s Teatro Argentina on February 20, 1816.

Ludwig van Beethoven

A German pianist and composer, Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn during the transition period between the Classical era and the Romantic era. His legacy is quite rich, which includes several piano concertos, symphonies, piano sonatas, string quartets, operas, and violin concertos. Probably the most famous ones are Fur Elise, Fidelio, Symphony No.9, Piano Sonata No. 8, Piano Sonata No. 14, Symphony No. 5, and A Song of Joy.

Giacomo Puccini

Dubbed as the greatest Italian opera composer since Verdi, Giacomo Puccini was born on December 22, 1858 in Tuscany. He was one of nine kids, and was exposed to music very early in his life as his family, headed by his great-great grandfather Giacomo, had established a musical dynasty in their city starting in the early 1700s. His earliest opera compositions were Edgar, Le Villi, and Manon Lescaut. In the late 1800s, he came out with La boheme, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly. Towards the end of his career, in the early 1900s, he produced La fanciulla del West, La rondine, and his final opera Turandot.

The Highest Echelon of Modern-Day Ukulele Heroes

Written on November 8, 2016   By   in Legends & Icons

To many serious musicians, the ukulele sure has come a long way from being an instrument that is almost an afterthought. Ask anybody who’s taken up an interest in music – there wasn’t much interest in the ukulele at all for a long time, due to its association with being an antiquated and limited sonic palette. It was a relic of the war. Or a folk instrument that has no place in pop music.

It seemed as though the ukulele was destined for the margins of music, until its remarkable resurgence in popularity.Nowadays, the ukulele is making a triumphant re-entry to popular music and popular culture – pop music stars such as Jack Johnson and the country group Mumford and Sons have made use of this instrument again. Furthermore, sales have never been higher – even cafes solely dedicated to ukulele players have cropped up out of nowhere.

Everyone and his mother are now learning to play the instrument, which is now a common fixture in popular music.

So, where did all this begin? Let’s trace the ukulele’s resurgence to its heroes in modern history, to whom we pay homage to in the following sections – this will also serve as a guide of sorts for the aspiring ukulele player.

1. Tiny Tim

tiny-timPerhaps no other entertainer has done more to keep the ukulele in the public spotlight than Herbert “Tiny Tim” Khaury. The gangly falsetto scored one of his biggest hits, a rendition of Joel Burke and Al Dublin’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”, and the rest is history. This rendition soared through the charts and is one of the most well-known ukulele tunes in modern pop music – which came out in 1968. Tiny Tim also wowed audiences with his encyclopedic knowledge of obscure show tunes accompanying himself on ukulele, being one of its foremost ambassadors until his untimely passing in 1996 – on stage, playing the ukulele.

2. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

israel-kamakawiwooleThe gentle giant with a golden voice known as “Bruddah Iz” can truly be said to have almost single-handedly introduce the ukulele to the world with his medley of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World”. After all, it was this same song that was featured on TV, film, radio, and commercials. Not surprisingly, his greatest contribution was to put Hawaii’s tradition of folk music on the world stage – he is rightfully revered for doing so.

3. Jake Shimabukuro

jake-shimabukuroTo make an analogy using professional wrestling, if Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was the Hulk Hogan of the ukulele (in terms of introducing it to the mainstream), then Jake Shimabukuro is Ric Flair (in terms of technical ability). His rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on ukulele, which became viral on YouTube, was a truly remarkable testament of what the ukulele’s sonic boundaries can achieve – his body of work attests to the virtuosity that can be achieved with this little instrument. His influence can be attributed to the ukulele as Jimi Hendrix’s influence on the guitar was – to go where no other musician has gone before in terms of boundaries. He has since designed a line of ukuleles bearing his signature – the Kamaka ukulele… this uku gets top reviews! If it’s good enough for Jake Shimabukuro….

4. Eddie Vedder

eddie-vedderYou may know him better as the frontman for multi-awarded rock group Pearl Jam, but Eddie Vedder has also played a part in popularizing the instrument – even within the confines of Pearl Jam itself. It started off with one of his first recorded songs on ukulele, entitled “Soon Forget”, on their 2000 album Binaural. This was followed by an essential album for all ukulele enthusiasts, aptly entitled “Ukulele Songs”, in 2011.

4 Important and Influential Rock and Roll Musicians in the Hall of Fame

Written on October 30, 2016   By   in Legends & Icons

For several decades now, we have been fortunate to have outstandingly talented musicians grace our airwaves. Even the young people of today are familiar with these 80s and 90s music icons whose songs have stood the test of time. They have loaded their phones and portable music players with songs from way before they were born, listening to them as they do their homework or start their elliptic running workout.

Below are four iconic legends in rock and roll that have contributed so much to the music industry:

James Brown

james-brownJames Brown started his musical career by joining talent show and singing competitions. Through the years, he worked as a gospel singer, lead vocalist for a rhythm and blues group, and a cappella performer. He was a member of The Famous Flames, who came out with the hits “Try Me” and “Please, Please, Please.” Among his most popular songs as a solo artist are “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” “I Got You (I Feel Good),” “Cold Sweat,” and “Night Train.” He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1986.

Elvis Presley

Recognized as one of 20th century’s most important cultural icons, Elvis Presley was a rock musician and actor who ruled the charts for many decades. His first number one album was his self-titled album, Elvis Presley, which was released in 1956 and reached the top spot not only in the United States but in the United Kingdom as well. Among his number one singles are “Heartbreak Hotel” (1956), “Jailhouse Rock” (1957), “Are You Lonesome Tonight” (1960), and “Surrender” (1961). He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Marvin Gaye

A singer, producer, and songwriter, Marvin Gaye was a 1960s Motown icon, dubbed as the Prince of Soul and Prince of Motown. His most popular songs include Let’s Get It On (1973), Sexual Healing (1982), Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (1967), I Heard It Through The Grapevine (1967), and What’s Goin’ On (1971). He was a recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame, and inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Smokey Robinson

Founder of the Miracles, a Motown vocal group (1965-1972), Smokey Robinson grew up in Detroit and learned to play the piano and guitar. As the frontman of the Miracles, he released notable hits like You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me, Baby Baby Don’t Cry, Going to a Go-Go, and Mickey’s Monkey. In 1973, he started his solo career and released Smokey, which included the songs Baby Come Close and Sweet Harmony. He became a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee in 1987.

Don’t Be a Mark: Avoid Setting Yourself to Get Ripped Off in the World of Vinyl Records

Written on October 16, 2016   By   in General Music Facts

switching-to-vinylSo you’ve heard about the renaissance of vinyl as a viable audio format in the time of iTunes and MP3. And why not? Vinyl is back to being hip and trendy. For most people, that is more than enough reason to dive into the deep end of the vinyl spectrum – with usually disastrous results on their balance sheets.

Because contrary to what many people think about the whole vinyl record industry, there is no noble cause in sticking to the format. Get that out of your head.

The thing is, there are just as many shrewd and enterprising operators in the vinyl world as there are in your local Apple store.

Think about it: this is the only time in recent history that the amplifiers, speakers, records, and other related products they are flogging are at their highest peak in terms of value. There is no noble cause and romance about vinyl now that everybody’s cashing in on a format that’s almost been forgotten.

In short, there are many operators out there who want to take advantage of your inexperience and separate you from your hard-earned money, effectively making you a money mark.

Now by no means do we want to tar every merchant with the same brush, but we do want you not to leave yourself out there for the kill.

See, I’ve had to learn this the hard way, just before the vinyl boom started. And this is why I want to share the three things you have to keep in mind before you make the same mistakes as I did.

Never Pay Over the Odds for Secondhand Items

There will be items that you may consider rare. Perhaps it’s that live album by the CTI All-Stars you’ve been looking for since you were in high school. Perhaps its that first pressing of Iron Butterfly’s “Heavy”. Vinyl dealers only know too well that when they have figured your taste in music out, and if you bite at the first price they give you on their records (seeing that you really like the band, for instance), you’ve just turned yourself into a mark that keeps on giving – even if the record they’re selling you is all tattered and torn and melted.

“But it’s the first pressing of Disraeli Gears!”

Yes, and it’s been gathering dust and mold in some warehouse that’s been flooded out twice.

Always remember that most vinyl out there is of a secondhand nature; this alone should give you an idea of what to pay for and what not to pay for.

Always Do Your Research

See, getting into vinyl isn’t as simple as buying, say, a faucet. Why? Because there is a wealth of information on faucets on the internet. For instance, you could easily find information on a particular brand and model of a faucet from a respected manufacturer at a site like Faucet Assistant. Vinyl, on the other hand, is not as cut and dried when it comes to pricing. Some records are overvalued, as are some pieces of hi-fi amplifiers or speakers.

Case in point (at the risk of sounding like a mark), an enterprising vinyl merchant in my city I paid a visit to set me up as a money mark. Me, being the romantic lover of all things analog, wanted to start my vinyl collection at all costs. In short, I asked him much he would sell me the amplifier he uses to play records at the shop. Granted, it was an old Technics SU-V7X. I didn’t know how much it was worth then, but I did have a lot of money laying around and was determined to take it home at all costs. To make a long story short, I was tricked into buying it at its sticker price when it came out in the 1980’s, as opposed to its true market value: $60. I basically paid him money to take my pants off in public.

Resist the Temptation of Rushing to Make a Purchase

Please, please, please (to quote the Godfather of Soul, James Brown) resist the temptation of buying a beat-up record that you consider to be rare because you think you won’t ever have the chance to buy it again. It’s the oldest trick in the book. Always know that you have the power to walk away from a record store that sees dollar signs all over you; it’s not going to be the end of the world if you don’t buy it right now. There are plenty of bargains out there, and vendors who sell their wares at a fair price; don’t be a money mark like I was.

You’ve now been blessed with the knowledge that will save your wallet from unscrupulous merchants out there; use it wisely.

Music Facts – Legends and Icons of the Classical Music Genre

Written on   By   in Legends & Icons

classic-musicThrough the centuries, there have been a number of people from all over the world that provided major contributions to classical music. With their talents and skills, they created gifts and treasures that remain loved, admired, and appreciated even many years later.

Today, their compositions can be heard from time to time, being performed at concerts and shows, or used as background music by exercise buffs working out on a rower recommended by Home Rower (see this website: Get to know some of these iconic classical musicians by reading below:

Johann Sebastian Bach

Born on March 31, 1685 in Germany, Johan Sebastian Bach was a highly-acclaimed baroque-style composer. He produced several masterpieces, including the Ave Maria, Cello Suites, Magnificat, Partitas for keyboard, Air on the G String, Christmas Oratorio, St. Matthew Passion, The Well-Tempered Clavier, Goldberg Variations, St. John Passion, Brandenburg Concertos, The Art of Fugue, and Orchestral Suites.

Ludwig van Beethoven

The mastermind behind Symphony No. 9 and Fur Elise, Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer born in Bonn. He is considered to be a top icon in the classical era of music, with compositions that have stood the test of time. Some of his other notable works are the Piano Sonata No. 8, Piano Sonata No. 14, Fidelio, Symphony No. 3, A Song of Joy, Violin Concerto, Missa solemnis, Egmont, Turkish March, Triple Concerto, Coriolan Overture Op. 62, Septet, Piano Trio Op. 97, and Choral Fantasy.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Born in Salzburg, Austria, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a child prodigy that influenced the classical era of music tremendously. He created several highly-acclaimed works in his lifetime, including the Requiem, The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, Clarinet Concerto, Cosi fan tutte, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Don Giovanni, Ave verum corpus, Piano Sonata No. 16, Idomeneo, Sonata for Two Pianos in D major, Coronation Mass, Great Mass in C minor K. 427, and Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen.

Giuseppe Verdi

An Italian musician born in Le Roncole on October 10, 1813, Giuseppe Verdi produced numerous popular operas, specifically Requiem (1874), Aida (1871), Falstaff (1893), and Otello (1887). His other important works include Rigoletto, Nabucco, La traviata, Il trovatore, Don Carlos, Macbeth, La forza del destino, Un ballo in maschera, Attila, Emani, Simon Boccanegra, Giovanna d’Arco, Le Trouvere, and Lusia Miller.

Frederic Chopin

A Polish composer and pianist born on March 1, 1810 in Zelazowa Wola, Frederic Chopin was described as a genius with professional technique that was outstanding and exemplary. His best works include Waltzes, Etudes, Nocturnes, Preludes, Fantaisie-Impromptu, Minute Waltz, Ballades, Grande valse brillante in E-flat major, and Berceuse.