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Music

Song of the Day: April 11, 2020

Yes, I know it’s April 12th, and I’m a day late on this one, but I did have a song in mind yesterday so I wanted to make sure to share it.

I try to keep my ears open to new music regardless of the genre. We let the kids control the radio from time to time when they’re in the car so we can hear their current favorite songs. It’s not always easy, and I might not always like what I hear, but that’s the whole point of the exercise.

From time to time, an artist comes around that stretches the boundaries of genres. In the mid-2010’s, I started hearing and reading about a country artist who was stretching the definition of the country music genre, and then I listened to Sturgill Simpson’s “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” all the way through. It blew me away! The story behind the album is equally amazing. Sturgill wrote the album to welcome his son into the world. How cool is that?

My favorite song on the album is “Keep It Between the Lines.” Horns, funk, and groove on a “country” album – what is there not to like? Enjoy!

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Music

Song of the Day: April 10, 2020

It was way back in 1997 when a group of us took the train into the city for 93XRT’s Free 4th of July concert which was our tradition for many years. I mean, who wouldn’t want to hear some great free music surrounded by all of the restaurant vendors at Taste of Chicago? And, the actual 4th of July was the best day to go back then because the crowds were smaller.

Well, our main reason for going that day was to see Big Head Todd & The Monsters (and Collective Soul to some extent), but by the time the show was over, I had a new favorite Chicago-based band. An up-and-coming acid jazz group named Liquid Soul opened the show that day and blew the crowd away. The crowd was up and moving and going nuts! I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Liquid Soul’s music seamlessly combined jazz, funk, soul, rock, R&B, rap, and everything in between. From that point forward, I would see as many shows as I could and managed to convince many friends and coworkers to go along for the ride. If you missed the Chicago acid jazz scene back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, check out Liquid Soul! They even played at Bill Clinton’s 1996 inaugural parade so you know they’re cool.

So, to start your Friday off right, here is a little soul for you – a little Liquid to the Soul, that is! Today’s Song of the Day is “Worlds’ on a Leash” by Liquid Soul.

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Music

Song of the Day: April 9, 2020

Those of you that know us well know that Donnell and I love going to concerts. We actually met at a Mr. Blotto show at Otto’s in DeKalb. We talked through the entire show so I have no memory of the music from that night, but clearly, Donnell and I hit it off!

We talked about the various bands and music that we liked, and one fairly obscure artist that we both liked was a singer-songwriter named Willy Porter from Milwaukee. We tried unsuccessfully to make plans to see a show, but all of those conversations brought us closer today, and as they say, the rest is history.

So, for today’s Song of the Day, here is a song from the guy that helped spark an amazing relationship now approaching 20 years: “Watercolor” by Willy Porter.

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Music

Song of the Day: April 8, 2020

Today, we’re going all the way back to 1959 for our Song of the Day.

As many of you know, I played trumpet in high school – A LOT of trumpet. It was a really great time to be in to trumpet. Dizzy was still actively playing. Miles was still pushing the envelope as he did his entire career. Wynton released amazing albums like “The Majesty of the Blues”and the three-album “Soul Gestures in Southern Blue” suite. The late 80’s and early 90’s were great years to be really in to trumpet.

If I had to look back and pinpoint the one album that flipped the switch for me to focus my studies on jazz trumpet, it would be Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue.” I am convinced that millions of trumpet players would say the same thing. “Kind of Blue” is approachable and understandable to anyone that enjoys music. That album is fairly unique in that way. No matter what genre you prefer, you can listen to and enjoy “Kind of Blue.” I even heard the album blaring from a roof top patio of a fraternity down the street from Currier Hall in Iowa City when I was in college. That was when I knew Miles and that album transcended everything.

Out of all of the great songs on the albums, the one that consistently puts a smile on my face, the one where I am convinced the guys were having an incredible moment in the studio is “All Blues.” I have listened to this song so many times that I can sing, and in some cases, play all of the solos. I hope it brings you as much joy as it does for me.

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Music

Song of the Day: April 7, 2020

I was really hoping I would not have to write about John Prine and COVID-19 and death, but the news came tonight that COVID-19 has taken John Prine from us.

To honor John and share one of my absolute favorite songs of all time, today’s Song of the Day is “Angel from Montgomery” written by John Prine and performed by Bonnie Raitt.

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Music

Song of the Day: April 6, 2020

As we start another week under nearly nationwide stay-at-home orders, it is difficult to find good news. One of the beautiful things about music is there is a song for every occasion, and even sad songs can spark a good memory.

Now, today’s Song of the Day is not a sad song by any stretch of the imagination. Leon Bridges released “Coming Home” back in 2015. If you haven’t heard it, pop over to Apple Music, Spotify, or whatever music service you prefer, and check it out.

Leon’s follow-up album, “Good Thing,” from 2018 was equally as amazing and worthy of many listens. With everything happening today, sometimes you have to make a good thing out of “Bad Bad News.”

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Music

Song of the Day: April 5, 2020

We got together over Zoom with our regular crew to play a fun little Euchre tournament over the internets last night. It was nice to see everyone, and the tournament was a great success even though we were separated in different houses and cities.

As is usually the case when we get together, the soundtrack eventually turned to 80’s music. There were many great songs in the playlist, but one stood out to me as particularly relevant for what we are all going through right now thanks to the threat of COVID-19.

So, here is today’s Song of the Day: “Break My Stride” by Matthew Wilder.

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Music

Song of the Day: April 4, 2020

I really hope this doesn’t become a pattern, but we lost another music great yesterday. Bill Withers wrote and performed some of the most funky, most soulful music of the 1970’s. We all know his music even if we don’t realize it. I mean, how many of us sang “Lean on Me” at some point in school?

In memory of Bill Withers, today’s Song of the Day is “Use Me” from 1973’s “Live at Carnegie Hall.” May his memorial be so joyous that they have to tie the casket down!

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Music

Song of the Day: April 3, 2020

Sometimes you just need to feel like you are lounging at the beach with a cool drink in your hand with waves steadily crashing on the shore. Today is definitely one of those days with nothing but clouds and rain forecasted until Sunday here in St. Louis and COVID-19 emergency stay-at-home orders in place for most of the country.

Having been fortunate enough to have spent time over the years lounging around at many different beaches, I have had plenty of time to discover music just right for the occasion.

One of my favorite artists for beach listening pleasure is Michael Franti & Spearhead. Their music has great energy, vibe, and message, and is a perfect compliment to the beach experience. The band’s station on Pandora is also excellent if you want to just turn on music and let it roll all day!

For me, hearing any song from the band immediately takes me back to a crazy trip my wife, Donnell, and I took to St. John right after a hurricane hit the island. Amazingly, there was still so much beauty even after so much destruction, but I digress.

So, to take me back to one of my favorite trips with Donnell and to celebrate Friday and imagine sitting at the beach for three minutes and forty-five seconds, here’s today’s Song of the Day: “The Sound of Sunshine” by Michael Franti & Spearhead!

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Music

Song of the Day: April 2, 2020

One of my absolute favorite albums of all time is Wynton Marsalis’ “Standard Time, Vol. 3: The Resolution of Romance”. Wynton released the album in 1990 right in the middle of my high school years when I was trying to figure out how to really play trumpet.

The album is immediately approachable and listenable, and Wynton played liked his first music teacher was in the recording studio with him. That teacher was Ellis Marsalis, Wynton’s dad, and he was indeed right there in the studio playing some of the best piano I had ever heard. While Wynton was and still is one of my favorite trumpet players, I believe the album was a showcase for Ellis, and his playing was why I enjoyed the album so much.

Ellis Marsalis passed away yesterday, and in his honor, today’s Song of the Day is “My Romance”. RIP