What is up Ozillians,
Djing a show on OZ is so much fun, to choose songs for 3 hours, it is like my birthday every Monday. The show does have parameters, so, sometimes, I find an artist that I totally dig, but they don't fit the format, so I started doing these blogs to get some of the other music out there. I have a general guideline, three artist, one from New Orleans, one from yesteryear and something new or someone who needs to be discovered or re-discovered. So far, I have wrote about Billy Iuso, Valerie June, Gene Clark, The Wood Brothers, Hard Working Americans and the albume Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones collaborated together celebrating the Everly Brothers. You can find these blogs here on the WWOZ website. Hope you dig!!
Living in New Orleans, I am extremely fortunate to watch artists grow and mature in one of the best musical atmospheres on the planet. Watching artists start out in street bands and grow into the clubs and recordings until finally they get so big they need to travel throughout the world and share their message. Meschiya Lake is such an artist, a super talented singer whose musical education and growth can be traced through the streets of New Orleans as well her unique upbringing starting in South Dakota.
Taking first place at a Rapid City South Dakota steakhouse was the springboard for a then, 9 year old Meschiya Lake, into the musical world. Combine her growing love of singing, with stints in the Know Nothing Family Zirkus Zideshow and End of the World Circus – a ragtag troupe that blended traditional circus arts with modern sideshow varieties and mix that with travels around the country, ending up in New Orleans. Add the time spent with Loose Marbles and her first group Magnolia Beacon and now we are ready to board Meschiya’s ship.
Meschiya had been turning heads on the streets of New Orleans when I really discovered her. Interestingly enough it was from two different directions. First was the release of her debut album, 2012’s “Lucky Devil,” with her band the Little Devils, and secondly, her times as vocalist for the rock group R. Scully and the Rough Seven. Meschiya’s first album really emphasized the music she had been listening too, most notably Bessie Smith. The track “Gimme a Pigs foot and a bottle of Beer,” is a great example of Lake learning from musical inspirations. The whole album Lucky Devil stays within a style I like to call traditional gypsy jazz. A style incorporating New Orleans Traditional jazz, with blues, and Northern European jazz made famous by artists like Django Reinhardt.
Not content with staying in one genre, Lake began expanding her repertoire, recording and performing with New Orleans musicians as diverse as Tom McDermott and Billy Iuso. Meschiya also spent time as the sometime vocalist for the group Rough Seven. During their live shows, the band would perform the Etta James version of “I’d Rather Go Blind,” and Meschiya would handle the vocal duties. Each time I saw her perform the tune, it would bring tears to my eyes and I was compelled to sing along. The different groups and recordings, or the magic of New Orleans, allows an artist to really come into their own. Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns second record, “Fooler’s Gold” delivers a Meschiya Lake whose vocals are filled with confidence, while choosing songs that emphasize a band that is taking the listener on their journey. The opening track, “Catch Them Young,” you can hear a sultry richness that is all Meschiya’s own voice. Other tracks that stand out are “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down” and the Mac Davis tune “I Believe in Music.” The last track, my favorite of hers at the time of this writing, seems to sum up all she has absorbed on her musical journey. A journey has taken her from the streets of New Orleans to stages all around the world, with no signs of slowing down.
Sometimes I like to do something I call I-tuning. I will start with an artist or a song, and see what I-tunes recommends. I end up with all kinds of different artists and compilations, but usually the suggestions are pretty dope. One of the best discoveries was Oregon singer Liz Vice. There’s a Light is her debut album and the cover photo is what initially struck me. A Simple black and white photo, but her pose told me there was a lot happening on this record. Holy schnikes was there ever! The music stuck to me immediately. A kind of 70’s neo-soul gospel record, and yes, a gospel record that is so comforting, and creates this groovy, swaying dance feeling. From the opening track “Abide” all the way through, a beautiful record.
Liz is part of the Deep Gospel Collective out of Portland, along with another rad band the Followers. They seem to be a new sytle of gospel music, and with the music doing as much speaking as the words. The lyrics are not preaching, rather, telling the listener what Liz has found through God and telling her stories with a great musical feeling. Check out “Abide,” Empty me out,” and especially “Pure Religion.” There’s A Light is a force of a record you should definitely listen to and let her songs wash over you while you dance to some serious grooves!
Being a music geek, one of the greatest feelings is the feeling of “groove discovery.” Someone or some thing turns me onto an artist from yesterday and I immediately fall into a heavy like to the sound, for several reasons. First, another awesome groove has been discovered, that was made possibly 40 or more years ago, and I feel as if I have finally been let in on a secret. Secondly, and sometimes more importantly, the discovery makes a connection between other artists I have been listening to. Whether it fits as an influence on the present or highlights certain producers or session musicians. The discovery causes immediate dancing and connects dots in my minds musical tapestry.
Barbara Lynn is one of those connectors for me. One of the few African American women who wrote and sang most of her songs and played guitar, talents which were relatively unheard of or ignored in a mostly male dominated music world, (Sister Rosetta Thorpe is another artist that springs to mind.) Barbara has a style that can travel the highs and lows of musical emotions, from an energized soul song to a teary eyed blues song, Lynn is able to navigate song structures and feeling with a confidence and sexy vocal swagger. Most of the songs I have come across are from a compilation entitled, “A Good Woman, The Complete Tribe and Jet Stream singles from 1966-1979.”
Barbara’s career spanning compilation does a great job of showcasing her songwriting, singing and guitar playing abilities. Lynn had a #1 hit with, “You’ll Lose a Good Thing,” which was also recorded by Aretha Franklin and Freddy Fender. Her version of “You Left the Water Running,” highlights her vocal talents and reveals a richness and depth, while still keeping a pop sensibility. The next track on the album, “Watch the One” is a great example of Lynn’s guitar ability, channeling a little B.B. King and Jimmy Reed, (Reed being one of her inspirations.) Some of the other standout tracks are “I’m so Lonesome, I could Cry,” “Club a Go-Go” and “Movin’ on a Groove.” The last track has a killer disco feel that immediately needs an increase in speaker volume.
Just as Barbara can move through R&B, Soul and Blues, she has shared the stage with a variety of acts: Carla Thomas, Jackie Wilson, Ike & Tina Turner, The Temptations and B.B. King. Do your self a favor and pick up some Barbara Lynn recordings, or tune into the Monday New Orleans music show on WWOZ 90.7 FM or wwoz.org online, and I will be spinning some Barbara Lynn somewhere in my show.
Find more info on Wikipedia and ITunes.