Music, Music Countdowns, Radio

Billboard Hot 100: Comparing Ariana Grande with the Beatles?

Ariana Grande has an excellent singing voice. Her four-octave vocal range makes her one of the best pure singers over the past ten years.

February 19th, 2019 was a historic day for Grande. She became only the second artist ever to achieve the top three positions on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, matching the feat first accomplished by the Beatles in 1964.

(Now it must be noted that the Beatles actually held all five of the top spots on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week during April 1964, at the height of Beatlemania in America. Obviously, the Beatles holding all 5 songs at the Top of the Hot 100 is still the overall record with the Billboard chart).

 

Still, it is impressive that Grande held down the top three spots with these songs for the Billboard Hot 100 survey dated 2/23/19:

  1. 7 Rings
  2. Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored
  3. Thank U, Next

 

 

Even more impressive are the Beatles and their overall record, with the Top 5 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending April 4th, 1964:

1: Can’t Buy Me Love

2: Twist And Shout

3: She Loves You

4: I Want To Hold Your Hand

5: Please Please Me

 

 

While I admire and respect the accomplishment of Ariana Grande, I am wondering how can we accurately rank Grande’s historic position in relation to the Beatles holding down the top 5 spots on the Billboard Hot 100 during 1964?

For over 60 years, Billboard Magazine has tracked the top songs in America with their Billboard Hot 100 chart. Since 1958, Billboard has tracked song popularity by using various metrics.

During the early days of the Billboard Hot 100, the chart was calculated based on:

  • Record Sales
  • Radio Airplay
  • Radio Stations Top Hits Surveys
  • Jukebox Plays

 

The first number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 was “Poor Little Fool” by Ricky Nelson, on August 4, 1958.

 

 

During the golden age of Top 40 radio, major market radio stations played a key role in songs becoming hits. If either Cousin Brucie on WABC New York or Larry Lujack on WLS Chicago played your song on their radio stations, the song generally reached the top 10 and quite possibly the number 1 position on the Billboard Hot 100.

 

 

Over the years, the way people bought and listened to music changed and so did the policy of criteria used by Billboard to calculate the Hot 100.

When record and singles sales dropped during the 90’s, Billboard switched the Hot 100 from a singles chart to a songs chart. Album cuts were also considered for the first time during this time period.

Last decade, Billboard introduced digital downloads and online audio streaming to the Hot 100 process and earlier in this decade added video streaming from YouTube and other sources to the Hot 100 mix.

Today the Hot 100 tracks radio airplay by audience impressions as measured by Nielsen BDS, sales data compiled by Nielsen Soundscan, both at retail and digitally, and streaming activity provided by online music sources, according to Billboard.

 

 

As you can tell, the criteria that Billboard uses here in 2019 is completely different than what they utilized in 1964 when the Beatles held the top 5 spots on the Billboard Hot 100.

My question that I pose for you: How can we compare the Billboard Hot 100 chart success of Ariana Grande (or any other artist today) with the historic Beatles music feat of 55 years ago? Isn’t this comparing apples to oranges?

The only constant thing for over 60 years is that Billboard has created a weekly Hot 100 chart. Everything else about the chart: How the songs are measured, are completely different now compared to Hot 100 calculations in 1964.

Should we even compare rote facts and figures associated with the Hot 100 from 1958 with the music of 2019? Is it fair to place a song like, “Can’t Buy Me Love” next to, “Thank U, Next?”

 

 

I’ve asked a couple of my friends to speak on this topic. Al Weed, General Surgeon for the Veterans Medical Center in Salem, Virginia, stated to me, “It is like comparing sports records from different eras” but Grande’s historic achievement is “still an impressive feat.”

Dave Delaney, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for Lutheran Churches in Virginia, also agreed that Grande’s topping of the Hot 100 “is an impressive achievement.” Delaney went on to say, “regardless of what you think of Grande’s music, she has prevailed over an extremely large field of gifted performers.”

I am in agreement with both Al Weed and Dave Delaney with their assessment of Grande and her recent historic success. However, I still wonder how to accurately rank the music feat of the Beatles: Which happened 55 years ago, to the chart topping Billboard Hot 100 record, just set by Grande?

Can I reconcile the totally different set of criteria used by Billboard in 1964, compared to the music measurements used by the Hot 100 in 2019? Quite frankly, I do not consider there is a fair and accurate way to evaluate extreme differences of Hot 100 benchmarks between the 1960’s and today.

Ranking music over a 60-year period of time can be subjective. My thoughts could be totally different from what you think on this subject. Reasonable minds can agree to disagree when it comes to opinions on music.

I find it extremely hard to properly rank and place music, compiled over 6-decades, when the metrics and categories of measurements have radically changed over the course of time.

Billboard will probably continue to crank out their Hot 100 chart, as long as there is recorded music on a national level. Many will debate music history as it relates to the current music scene. More than likely, people will have dialogue on the Billboard Hot 100 for years to come.

 

What are your thoughts on Ariana Grande and her recent Billboard Hot 100 music performance? Is it equal to the Beatles 1964 Hot 100 achievement? Better? Not as good? Different?   Ariana or the Fab 4? Which do you choose?

Obviously, there are no definitive answers on this topic. The only sure thing that I can come up with is from the song, “Spinning Wheel” by Blood Sweat and Tears:

“What goes up, must come down, spinning wheel, got to go ‘round.”

 

To subscribe to my blog via email, please click the “Follow” button in the menu above. I am looking forward reading your comments on my latest blog message. Rock on!

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Artist Profiles, Concert Reviews, Music

Oshima Brothers: A Maine Treasure

The state of Maine is known for its rocky coastline, lighthouses, lobster, moose, blueberries, Acadia National Park and LL Bean.

Rarely does anyone outside of the Pine Tree State ever think about Maine’s music scene. I predict that will be changing when those outside of New England learn about the Oshima Brothers.

The Oshima Brothers are a musical duo composed of two siblings, older brother Sean, 24, and Jaime, 21. The brothers were born and raised in a rural area near the Maine state capital of Augusta, and now call the mid-coast town of Belfast, Maine their home.

Sean and Jamie have been playing music together as siblings since they were young boys. Their parents are also musicians.

Mom Toki and Dad John regularly played music during contra dances across the state of Maine and gave their sons an appreciation for music by playing multiple instruments. Music has always been the focus for the entire Oshima family.

So you may be wondering: What type of music do the brothers Oshima play? Here is a quote from the Oshima Brothers official website:

“…[T]he brothers have honed a harmony-rich blend of contemporary folk and acoustic pop. On stage, Sean and Jamie create a surprisingly full sound with dynamic vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, octave bass, loops, and percussion.”

Brothers Jamie and Sean both have distinct roles within their band and harmoniously blend individual strengths together to create the unique sound of their musical partnership.

Sean Oshima

Sean is the chief songwriter, business manager, and public relations director and handles all communications for the duo. He plays rhythm guitar, harmonica, and cajón at shows, along with vocal duties. Sean has an exceptional falsetto vocal range.

Jamie Oshima

Jamie is the music maestro, producer, recording/audio engineer and filmmaker for the band. He plays multiple instruments including the electric guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, mandolin, banjo, and fiddle while also recording songs and videos at the Oshima Brothers home studio. Jamie also shares vocal responsibilities with his brother.

I first came to be familiar with the Oshima Brothers band the day before they came to Roanoke, Virginia for a concert. My sister, Kathryn Larson, who lives in New Gloucester, Maine, has actually known Jamie and Sean since they were young boys.

Kathryn is a contra dance caller throughout the state of Maine and the Oshima Brothers, along with their parents John and Toki, have played at many contra dances over the years where Kathryn is the caller.

With Kathryn’s connection, I met Sean and Jamie three hours before their concert at The Spot on Kirk in downtown Roanoke on Monday January 14th. The Oshima Brothers were the opening band for singer-songwriter Caitlin Canty, as both were part of a 13-stop tour that was sponsored by the Americana Music Association.

During my interview with Jamie and Sean, I found out that they formed their band in 2015 and released the self-titled, “Oshima Brothers” album during 2016. They also have a 5-song EP called, “Under the Same Stars” that is currently not released to buy online but was available for purchase for those who attended their concert in Roanoke that evening.

Sean and Jamie Oshima

To get to know the Oshima Brothers better, here are some of the questions I asked Sean and Jaime about their band:

What artists influenced you when you were growing up?

Sean: We have been obsessed with The Beatles forever. We also listened to Jackson 5, Gillian Welch, Jack Johnson. Funk, reggae, traditional fiddle tunes, old country duets.

What type of artists do you listen to in 2019?

Sean: We love all types of music from groovy pop to smooth jazz. We listen to Ray Charles, John Mayer, Tom Misch, The Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and on and on and on forever.

What is the one thing you most admire about your brother?

Sean: His clear focus. He’s obsessed with all things music. I admire the eagerness with which he dives into musical projects, new recordings, new videos. Jamie’s patience and relentlessness is amazing.

Jamie: I admire Sean’s ability to match his sock color to the occasion, mood, and atmosphere of an event, and his outfit. I don’t know, but he might have 100 pairs of socks. I also like his poetry. It’s pretty good.

Describe the type of music you play?

Sean: It’s sort of like indie-folk-pop. A little mix of everything. It can be groovy and dreamy and smooth and chill and acoustic and electric all at the same time. Rich with harmonies and bass and big drums then stark and sweet with acoustic guitar.

Oshima Brothers equipment

For their Roanoke concert, the Oshima Brothers performed 8 songs. Here is the setlist:

Nine Mile Kite

Ellie

Letter

Hearts As Full As The Moon

Broken

How Deep Is Your Love

These Cold Nights

Calling Your Name

Before Sean and Jamie opened their show, I gave each brother a bottle of Poland Spring water as a welcome to Roanoke and to help them have a pleasant reminder of their beloved home state of Maine.

The opening selection of “Nine Mile Kite” started out with Jaime and Sean wonderfully singing a capella before finishing their song with playing of instruments. An excellent tune to begin their show.

Wonderful harmonies were part of every Oshima Brothers song that was played at the Roanoke show. The concert was a good mix of up-tempo tunes and pleasing slow ballad grooves.

One of the highlights of the evening was the performance of a brand new single, “Ellie” which Sean said that Portland Maine Triple A radio station, WCLZ 98.9 FM is now playing and how it was thrilling hearing their song receiving air play in their home state. With the right radio exposure, I believe “Ellie” could become a hit with a wider audience.

Halfway through the set, Jamie broke out his fiddle for the toe-tapping song, “Broken” which was a crowd favorite. Two other songs that were highlights for the band were “These Cold Nights” and “Hearts as Full as the Moon.” There is a freshness with the Oshima Brothers’ music, with no two songs sounding alike.

Seven of the eight songs performed that evening were original tunes by the brothers. The one cover song they played, “How Deep Is Your Love” by the Bees Gees was superb. The falsetto vocal range and harmony of Sean and Jamie equally matched the singing by the Brothers Gibbs on their number 1 song from 1977.

Jamie and Sean’s songs are well crafted. Their harmonies are smooth and flow together beautifully, no matter which song they are performing. I especially enjoy the chord progressions on many of the tunes played by the brothers.

After the Oshima Brothers performed, Caitlin Canty took the stage with her acoustic guitar, laying down excellent tunes with folk, country and introspective storytelling. Accompanying Canty at this concert was Miss Tess, who did an outstanding job playing her upright bass.

Caitlin Canty and Miss Tess. Photo by Jamie Oshima

Since Caitlin toured with the Oshima Brothers on this 13-day January journey, I asked her if she could share some comments about the brothers and their music. Here are Caitlin’s thoughts to me via email at Caitlin Canty’s official website:

“The post-show chatter from the audience was always positive about OB [Oshima Brothers] – my favorite eavesdropped comment was, ‘they are a breath of fresh air.’ They are sweet and hardworking people and I’m sure we’ll hear a lot more good music from them in the years to come.”

Sean and Jamie Oshima

I absolutely agree with Caitlin’s assessment on the Oshima Brothers: I am confident that Sean and Jamie’s music will become popular to a wider audience and we will be blessed to hear much more new music from the brothers in the future. The Oshima Brothers are a Maine Treasure!

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Music, Retro Rock

Gayle Deel: Mega Beatles Fan Explores England and Iceland

 

The Beatles Story Museum exhibit in Liverpool. Photo by Gayle Deel

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world…

 

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one

Imagine if you were inside the childhood house of Paul McCartney in Liverpool and a tour guide invites someone on the tour of the home to play a song on Paul’s piano? It may sound like a dream but it actually became reality for Beatles fan and Roanoke, Virginia native Gayle Deel.

While on tour at McCartney’s home, Gayle played John Lennon’s signature song, “Imagine” on the same piano that Paul himself played and sang “When I’m 64”, along with James Corden, on a June 2018 Carpool Karaoke episode of The Late Late Show. It was truly one of the highlights of Gayle’s trip to England to visit multiple Beatles sites during September of last year.

I first came in contact with Gayle shortly after I published Dave & Steve Delaney: Beatles Pilgrimage to England on my blog last October. Through our mutual friend Bruce Bias, Gayle and I communicated about me possibly sharing her Beatles experience after she enjoyed reading about the Delaney Brothers Fab Four trip.

Earlier this month, I interviewed Gayle about her trip to England and a secondary visit to Iceland to visit a John Lennon memorial, The Imagine Peace Tower. Gayle’s passion and knowledge of the Beatles was evident as she reminisced about various things associated with the band that got their start in Liverpool.

As a retirement gift to herself, Gayle Deel planned a trip of a lifetime: Touring Beatles sites in London and Liverpool, England. Gayle retired from the Veterans Administration Hospital in Salem, Virginia where she worked in the Radiology department for many years.

Exhibit at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England. Photo by Gayle Deel.

Accompanying Deel on the trip were her brother Douglas Nauman of High Point, North Carolina and her boyfriend Douglas Rhodes of Roanoke, Virginia. The three embarked to England on September 11, 2018 and spent 7 days viewing various Beatles sites in Liverpool and London.

Gayle’s love for the Beatles began on February 7th, 1964 when she watched the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite with her father. As Gayle stated to me, “I fell in love. My dad just shook his head.”

Deel went on to say, “That’s when I became a Beatle devotee for life and I anxiously awaited any magazine that was published just to own a piece of them in print. My only prized possession at that time was a 45 rpm “I Want to Hold Your Hand” –played repeatedly on a portable turntable.”

After getting off the airplane at England’s Heathrow Airport, Gayle and her traveling companions boarded a train in London bound for Liverpool. Gayle mused on that initial train ride: “I just knew it was going to look like the same train: I hear “A Hard Day’s Night” (from the 1964 movie where the Fab Four ride on a train from Liverpool to London).

The first location the trio visited in Liverpool was the Cavern Club. The Beatles played many concerts there during their early days as a band but the original building was closed in 1973 due to construction on a new underground rail loop. A new building for the Cavern Club came in 1984 and this site is now one of the most visited tourist sites in England.

Gayle Deel at the Cavern Club Liverpool, England.

Gayle accounts her experience at the historic music site in Liverpool: “The first stop was the Cavern Club, taking the steps down into the cellar with music flowing, signatures of thousands across the ceiling and “The Stage” where my heroes began their journey. All I could hear was “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Twist and Shout” in that hallowed cellar.”

Every Beatles fan has a favorite Beatle, and Gayle has been a John Lennon fan since the days that the Fab Four performed on the Ed Sullivan show during February 1964. She shared with me that visiting Lennon’s Liverpool childhood home was her favorite event on the Beatles pilgrimage.

Gayle Deel at John Lennon exhibit in Liverpool, England

Here is Gayle describing her tour of the Lennon home: “It was emotional to walk into the back yard and enter the kitchen knowing John had been through that door many times with friends such as Pete Shotton, Ivan Vaughan and sometimes Paul McCartney. The most chilling was being in the small bedroom where John spent young years and teenage years reading about other musicians, listening to American artists and beginning to craft his own musical talents.”

Paul McCartney childhood home in Liverpool, England. Photo by Gayle Deel.

Gayle’s second favorite visit on the trip was her visit to Paul McCartney’s home on 20 Forthlin Road in Liverpool. Gayle also shares her thoughts on this memorable happening:

“On to Paul’s home – the second thrill of my trip, because it was here that I played, in his living room, the very same piano that THE Paul McCartney had played. Actually the song that rolled off my fingers was “Imagine” by John Lennon, not a McCartney song. But I found it applicable as I had imagined many times the reuniting of these two brilliant musicians. Another young Beatle fan joined me and we played “Let It Be”. He with the melody and me on the chords. I’ll never forget it!”

The other tourist stops on the trip to Liverpool are too numerous to name. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Penny Lane
  • Strawberry Field
  • St Peter’s Parish
  • Eleanor Rigby’s grave

The Beatles Story Museum in Liverpool, England. Photo by Gayle Deel.

After spending a few days in Liverpool, it was then time to take what Electric Light Orchestra sang about in 1979, the “Last Train to London.” The next day, Gayle’s touring group hit various Beatles sites in and around London.

The first memorable site Gayle visited was 3 Savile Row, which was the location of the Beatles last live performance ever: The Rooftop Concert. This mini concert became the climax of the 1970 documentary film “Let It Be.”

Visiting 3 Savile Row was a surreal experience for Gayle as she shared with me,

“The Beatles’ rooftop concert with Billy Preston, was the last time the group ever played together as a band. The Apple building was once owned by all four Beatles and each had an office in that structure. I went in and experienced being in the former beautiful wooden offices, now lined with clothing to purchase. What a shame this building is not a museum. I hear, “Get Back.”

The other highlight for Gayle in London was visiting Abbey Road. The iconic street is known around the world as John, Paul, George and Ringo were photographed walking across thoroughfare and the Beatles made it the front cover of the “Abbey Road” album. In Gayle’s words, “The walk across “Abbey Road” in London: no words can explain and then to turn and see Abbey Road Studios. I hear “Come Together.”

Gayle Deel walking across Abbey Road in London, England.

As trips go, Gayle, her brother and boyfriend all enjoyed their Beatles trip to England. However, Gayle wasn’t finished visiting sites associated with the Beatles.

On December 4th of last year, Deel and her boyfriend Douglas Rhodes went to Iceland to view the Imagine Peace Tower.

The memorial to John Lennon by his widow Yoko Ono, is dedicated to peace, and the tower’s name comes from Lennon’s signature 1971 solo hit song, “Imagine.”

Gayle had a wonderful experience visiting Iceland and the Peace Tower. Here are some of her thoughts as she recalls visiting the Nordic island country in the North Atlantic.

Iceland town. Photo by Gayle Deel.

“Iceland is a beautiful country. The air is clean and crisp and it is a quiet, peaceful country. It looks like a scene from Santa’s workshop.”

“The Peace Tower is located on Viday Island and a boat ride is required to get that location. We went at night. It was cold, windy and there were several inches of snow on the ground. We made the trek up the hill to the beautiful monument that shone a blue light into the heavens. Engraved on its’ sides is “Imagine Peace” in 24 languages. It is inspiring and moving. Yoko has also placed a stone that says: “I dedicate this light tower to John Lennon. My love for you is forever – Yoko Ono October 9, 2007.”

Whale watching boat, Atlantic Ocean, along the coast in Iceland. Photo by Gayle Deel.

“Yoko chose Iceland with the blessings of the Icelandic people to build the monument there because it is between Liverpool, England, the land of John’s birth and New York City, the city he loved as it reminded him of Liverpool. Iceland is also considered the most peaceful country in the world – thus The Peace Tower.”

“The light is visible for many miles and the blue hue of the light just exudes a peaceful feeling and a yearning for self and world peace. The sole purpose of this trip was to experience that peace. And it happened: I hear ”Give Peace a Chance.”

As you can tell from Gayle’s writing above, she was deeply moved by her time in Iceland visiting the Imagine Peace Tower. She told me during our interview that she would like to revisit Iceland again in the future.

Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland. Photo by Gayle Deel.

Next up on Gayle’s bucket list is visiting Bermuda. This was the location where John Lennon wrote the songs for his last album, “Double Fantasy” which was released just prior to his assassination on December 8th, 1980. Gayle would love to listen to Lennon’s song, “Watching the Wheels” while visiting the Caribbean Island.

Now that Gayle is retired, she has taken up photography. You can view some of Gayle’s photography work on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/gaylendeelphotography/

Thanks to Gayle for sharing her pilgrimage to England and Iceland. After hearing and writing about her experiences, this Beatles fan is ready to travel in England and beyond to visit Fab Four sites.

These are Gayle Deel’s words to live by:

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one

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Music, Retro Rock

What is Frat Rock?

 

 

 

Now the seats are all empty

Let the roadies take the stage

Pack it up and tear it down

They’re the first to come and the last to leave

Working for that minimum wage

They’ll set it up in another town

 

Now roll them cases out and lift them amps

Haul them trusses down and get’em up them ramps

Cause when it comes to moving me

You guys are the champs

But when that last guitar’s been packed away

You know that I still want to play

So just make sure you got it all set to go

Before you come for my piano

The lyrics above are from Jackson Browne’s 1977 song “The Load Out,” which mentions roadies. I had this song rolling across my mind, as I was a roadie for Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God” tour in Roanoke, Virginia last month. While taking a break from roadie duties that day, I received a call from my friend Bruce Bias.

After finishing small talk, Bias asked me the question: “What is Frat Rock?” My friend had been listening to E Street Radio on SiriusXM and heard Bruce Springsteen mentioning that he used to play Frat Rock music in the early days of his career before the release of the “Born to Run” album in 1975.

I didn’t know quite how to respond to his question. The only thing that initially came to my mind was music that was played in the 1978 film, “Animal House.” Or maybe it was music that is played by garage bands?

Before ending our phone chat, I told Bruce that I would research the meaning of Frat Rock and get back with him. Obviously, I educated myself on the subject and am ready to share my thoughts with Bruce and to everyone else who is reading about Frat Rock now.

The week that I was researching Frat Rock, I watched the 1996 film, “That Thing You Do!” for the first time. Written and produced by Tom Hanks, the movie chronicles the rise and fall of a fictional 1964 “one hit wonder” garage rock band.

The film accurately portrays what a typical garage band would be like in the mid-60’s and paints the picture of what many Frat Rock bands had to deal with during that time period. My daughter Amy recommended the film to me and I am now recommending the movie to all who are reading this message.

So what is Frat Rock? This genre of music is closely associated with the garage rock bands that became popular after Beatlemania swept across America in 1964. Frat Rock is also associated with 60’s R&B grooves: songs that have fast up-tempo beats and explosive choruses that can be sung by multiple singers.

Many of the early Frat Rock songs sounded like a party was happening in the studio when the song was being recorded. Backup singers on these early recordings would hand clap, shout, laugh, holler and make it sound like a party was being thrown while the song was actually being made into a record.

Quite a few Frat Rock songs released in the 60’s were made by rock bands that were either “one hit wonders” or tended to not have more than two or three major Top 40 hits. Later on during the 70’s, Frat Rock’s biggest acts were J. Geils Band and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. These two bands featured plenty of guitars along with keyboards and saxophones.

One of the finest examples of Frat Rock from Bruce Springsteen comes from “The River “ album and the song, “Sherry Darling.”

During the 35th anniversary of Springsteen’s “The River” tour in 2016, Billboard Magazine had this to say about his “Sherry Darling” song: “The whooping party noises on this throwback frat-rock stomper provide a funny contrast with the lyrics, all about a guy stuck driving his girl’s pain-in-the-butt mother to the unemployment agency. Springsteen based the tune on ‘60s classics like the Swingin’ Medallions’ ‘Double Shot of My Baby’s Love,’ and he nails the vibe while injecting just enough sociopolitical angst to make it his own.”

During the late 60’s and early 70’s, Frat Rock songs became a mainstay for college fraternity parties. Perhaps the most celebrated Frat Rock song of all time is the tune called, “Shout.” The Isley Brothers wrote and recorded the song in 1959 but in was immortalized in the 1978 movie, “National Lampoon’s Aminal House.”

In the “Animal House” film, Otis Day and the Knights perform a cover version of “Shout” at a fraternity party that features drunken frat boys in togas dancing with sorority sisters. “Shout” is now in the Grammy Hall of Fame and Rolling Stone magazine ranks the song at number 118 on their, “500 Greatest Songs of All Time Listing.”

So what do music critics consider to be the best Frat Rock songs of all time?

ThoughtCo.com has a listing of their Top 10 Frat Rock songs:

  1. Double Shot Of My Baby’s Love—The Swinging Medallions
  2. Louie Louie—The Kingsmen
  3. Wooly Bully—Sam the Sam and the Pharaohs
  4. Nobody But Me—The Human Beinz
  5. Quarter To Three—Gary “U.S.” Bonds

 

  1. Shout—Isley Brothers
  2. 96 Tears—? And the Mysterians
  3. Land of a 1000 Dances—Cannibal and the Headhunters
  4. Farmer John—The Premiers
  5. Mony Mony—Tommy James and the Shondells

There is even an album called, “Frat Rock! The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Tunes of All-Time.”

Some of the songs on this compilation album from Rhino Records include:

  1. Gimme Some Lovin’—Spencer Davis Group
  2. Hungry—Paul Revere and the Raiders
  3. Keep on Dancing—The Gentrys
  4. Barbara Ann—The Beach Boys
  5. Wipe Out—The Surfaris

 

  1. Wild Thing—The Troggs
  2. Do You Love Me—The Contours
  3. Dance To The Music—Sly and the Family Stone
  4. Reelin’ and Rockin’—Chuck Berry
  5. Function at the Junction—Shorty Long

 

And now some of my favorite underrated Frat Rock Songs:

  1. (We Ain’t Got (Nothin’ Yet)—Blues Magoos
  2. Pushin’ Too Hard—The Seeds
  3. Talk Talk—The Music Machine
  4. You, I—The Rugbys
  5. Shape of Things To Come—Max Frost and the Troopers

 

  1. Birthday—Underground Sunshine
  2. Hot Smoke and Sasafrass—Bubble Puppy
  3. I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)—Electric Prunes
  4. Psychotic Reaction—Count Five
  5. Did You See Her Eyes—The Illusion

Obviously, my thoughts on Frat Rock are just the tip of an iceberg. If you want more information about this genre of music, there are many places on the Internet to satisfy your curiosity about the various aspects of Frat Rock.

To Bruce Bias, as I promised to you: an investigation and a blog message on Frat Rock. Enjoy the read!

And to everyone else who is reading this message now: You don’t have to be a former college fraternal brother to enjoy the type of music described on this blog.

Everyone can delight listening to this musical genre. Long live, Frat Rock!

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Music, Retro Rock, Virginia Artists

Agents of Good Roots Celebrate 25 Years

Agents of Good Roots Celebrate 25 Years

In 1993, “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston was the biggest single of the year, Michael Jackson played the Super Bowl halftime show and the Dave Matthews Band from Charlottesville, Virginia released their live album, “Remember Two Things.”

While the Dave Matthews Band was gaining popularity nationally during 1993, another Virginia band was formed that same year in Richmond: the Agents of Good Roots (AOGR). Andrew Winn and Stewart Myers, friends from Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, Virginia, hooked up with Brian Jones and J.C. Kuhl to form the band that became a darling of East Coast college campus venues and club circuits throughout the 90’s.

Agents of Good Roots are celebrating their 25 years as a band by performing two Virginia concerts. AOGR will playing at The Broadberry in Richmond on December 21st and then the next night will be performing at Roanoke’s 5 Points Music Sanctuary.

My connection with AOGR goes back to the late 80’s when I met Tom and Nancy Myers along with their son Stewart. I was a sound engineer for Grace Covenant Church in Roanoke, Virginia and Stewart played bass with the worship team during his high school years.

Stewart Myers met Andrew Winn at Patrick Henry High School. The two boys played together in various rock bands and formed their musical bond during this time period. After graduation from high school, Winn attended James Madison University and Myers went to school at William and Mary.

By 1993, both Myers and Winn ended up in Richmond and formed a band with Brian Jones and J.C. Kuhl. The original name of this new band was River Jacks and their first show was played at Shockoe Bottom in Richmond 25 years ago. Quickly after the first concert, the band became Taxicat and then finally came up with the name Agents of Good Roots within the first year of the band’s forming.

From 1995 until 2001, AOGR toured up and down the East Coast and had a regional following. The band toured with Virginia artists Dave Matthews Band and Bruce Hornsby, along with Blues Traveler during their active touring years.

Agents of Good Roots recorded five studio albums, two EP’s and released four singles during the years 1995 through 1999. Two of the AOGR singles received airplay on Triple A rock radio stations and one of the band’s videos was played on MTV.

The single, “Smiling Up the Frown” was a radio hit on Triple A rock radio stations and reached number two on the Billboard Triple A chart during 1998. Another popular single for the band in 1998 was “Come On (Let Your Love Come Alive).” This tune also received airplay on Triple A rock radio and MTV added a video for this song to their rotation when the song was popular.

Starting in 2001, AOGR cut back on their massive touring schedule and maintained a limited amount of concerts in and around the Richmond area. Then in 2006, the band went on hiatus and remained dormant until 2017.

According to the official Agents of Good Roots website, the band, “reunited for a memorial show for their tour manager and spiritual advisor, Jeff Peskin.” Since that time in October 2017, AOGR have performed 12 concerts in Richmond, Roanoke, Hampton, Charlottesville and Arrington, all in Virginia, plus in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington D.C.

I had the opportunity to attend the Agents of Good Roots Roanoke concert back in October and also met with band members Andrew Winn and Stewart Myers three hours before the beginning of their concert that evening. It was great reconnecting with Myers and a pleasure meeting Winn for the first time at the 5 Points Music Sanctuary concert venue.

So how does one describe what kind of band AOGR is and what genre of music they play? I asked this question to Winn when we met and he came up with one word: “improvisational”. My one word to describe AOGR’s music is “hybrid”. They play rock, pop, jazz and old school R&B with some retro grooves. The band is known for playing its songs differently each time they perform live.

If you are attending one of AOGR’s 25th anniversary concerts, here is the lineup you will see:

Drums, Vocals / Brian Jones

Tenor, Bari, Soprano Sax / J.C. Kuhl

Bass, Vocals / Stewart Myers

Guitar, Keys, Vocals / Andrew Winn

So what are the “day jobs” that the Agents of Good Roots members are performing here at the end of 2018? Winn now lives in Roanoke and is an anesthesiologist with Carilion Clinic. Myers works in the recording industry and recently produced an album by Virginia folk/country artist Sarah White. Kuhl and Jones both teach college jazz courses at the College of William and Mary, the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University.

If you are looking for more current facts on AOGR band members, Tad Dickens of the Roanoke Times provided an excellent article on the band just before their Roanoke concert during October. https://www.roanoke.com/arts_and_entertainment/music/reunited-agents-of-good-roots-in-it-for-fun-headed/article_c6cdc4b0-7258-5857-8068-06eb8f9c5db9.html

Recently, I asked Andrew Winn a couple of questions on AORG music:

What are the Top 5 AORG songs?

  1. “Sidewinder”
  2. “Smiling Up the Frown”
  3. “Bucks in Cash”
  4. “Shot Down”
  5. “The Ballad of Hobby and the Piano

What is the signature song of AOGR?

“Sidewinder”

AGOR’s member Brian Jones wrote “Sidewinder” and here are the opening lyrics to the signature song from the band:

“Standing in the Eden Garden

Lying in the shade

Sidewinder in the dirt

Grass cutting King of Spades

Sidewinder

Adam was combing hair

Eden was bearing fruit”

Agents of Good Roots Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Agents-of-Good-Roots-1630761856948921/

Agents of Good Roots Official Online Page: https://www.agentsofgoodroots.com/

Agents of Good Roots: Photo by Dylan King

As I mentioned above, I attended AOGR’s Roanoke concert a couple months ago and I came away impressed with the musical variety and musicianship of each member of the band. I enjoyed their show and would definitely attend another concert by AOGR.

If you ever have the opportunity to attend an Agents of Good Roots concert, you will not be disappointed. Happy 25th anniversary to the band.

 

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Music, Retro Rock

The Beatles White Album: They Say It’s Your Birthday—50 Years

50 Years of The Beatles White Album

“They say it’s your birthday, we’re gonna have a good time, I’m glad it’s your birthday, happy birthday to you” are the opening lyrics to the song “Birthday” off of The Beatles’ legendary White Album.

The White Album, officially named “The Beatles,” turns 50 on November 22nd. Originally released in 1968, the double album has a plain white sleeve with no graphics or text other than the band’s name embossed on the front cover of the album.

The White Album contains 30 tracks and is diverse with many musical styles. Rock, pop, blues, country, reggae, avant-garde, folk, psychedelic and Indian music are all featured on this landmark album. It was a groundbreaking eclectic mix of musical styles for the year 1968.

While there were no singles released from the White Album, the songs “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” were both recorded during the same recording sessions but left off the album. This was the same pattern that was used when “Penny Lane” and Strawberry Fields Forever” were left off the Beatles, “Sgt. Pepper” album in 1967.

By no means will this article attempt to rank songs, claim to be a definitive source or declare that any tune from the White Album is the “greatest or best” from the album. If you are looking for that type of analysis, I would encourage you to check out other Internet sources for that kind of information.

According to The Beatles Bible, most of the songs from the White Album were written during a “transcendental meditation course with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh, India, between February and April 1968.”

During the time the band was in India, Beatle fans were clamoring for more music. The “Lady Madonna” single became a number 1 song during that time period but that was the only music released by the band.

After the Sgt. Pepper’s album was released in May 1967, The Beatles did not put out any more full-length studio albums for a year and a half. The six-track “Magical Mystery Tour” EP and the four new songs for the “Yellow Submarine” LP were the only new Beatles music being produced. Some wondered if the band were all washed up.

Once back in England, the Beatles started recording the White Album in May 1968 and didn’t complete the process until October of that year. It was an extremely long and arduous undertaking that many music historians link to the beginning of the end for the most popular band of the 60’s.

Along with the recording of the White Album, the band also formed the Apple Record Company, which brought many new challenges to the Beatles’ empire.

Most of the tracks of the White Album were recorded at the Abbey Road Studios in London. But as my friend Steve Delaney of Virginia Beach shared with me, a few of the tracks on the album were also recorded at London’s Trident Studios. Delaney learned of that information when he and his brother Dave Delaney visited the legendary Abbey Road Studio during August 2018.

Beatles record producer George Martin decided to take two tracks from the White Album recording sessions, Hey Jude and Revolution, and release those songs as a double A sided single during August 1968. “Hey Jude” was not only was the biggest song of 1968 but also was the best selling single for the entire 60’s decade.

One of the most interesting quotes that I read researching the history of the White Album is from writer Jann S. Wenner that was published in Rolling Stone Magazine on December 21st, 1968:

“There is almost no attempt in this new set to be anything but what the Beatles actually are: John, Paul, George and Ringo. Four different people, each with songs and styles and abilities. They are no longer Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and it is possible that they are no longer The Beatles.

Wenner’s review is almost seems prophetic as the demise of The Beatles became reality when John Lennon privately told his band mates that he was leaving the band ten months later during September 1969. (Public announcement of the Beatles break-up came in April 1970 when Paul McCartney announced that he was also leaving the band).

For this 50th anniversary of the White Album, I have asked some of the biggest Beatle fans that I know for their thoughts on the album released exactly 5 years after the assassination of U.S. President John F Kennedy on 11/22/63.

But before I share my friends’ thoughts on various songs from the White Album, I want to express what are my favorite songs from the album turning 50 years old this month. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is my absolute favorite Beatles song of all time and “Back in the USSR” is my third favorite song ever by the band.

You can listen to a countdown of my favorite Beatles songs of all time when I was a guest DJ for a My Fab Four segment with The Beatles Channel on SiriusXM. This SoundCloud audio file is from August 2017.

Besides “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Back in the USSR”, rounding out my top 5 songs on the White Album are “Blackbird,” “Helter Skelter” and “Revolution 1.”

If you ask 100 individuals what are the top five songs on the White Album, most likely you would end up with 100 different answers. With this in mind, I have asked friends of mine who are huge Beatles fans, to share some of their thoughts on this legendary album.

David Hollandsworth: Roanoke, Virginia:

“I was only 11 when the While album came out so it wasn’t until a
couple years later that I first heard it at a friend’s house. I was
intrigued by it because it was a double LP release in a plain white
jacket.

Favorite songs would include “Back in the USSR”, “Birthday,” “Ob-La-Di,
Ob-La-Da,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Blackbird,” “Happiness Is a Warm
Gun” and “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey”.
Probably my favorite is “Dear Prudence”; I’ve just always liked the
melancholy chord progression and mood.

I used to think this was kind of a hodge-podge album but it’s grown on me over the decades and next to Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s, I would say this is my third favorite Beatles album. Hard to believe it’s turning 50 years old! Happy birthday to ya!”

Sherry Hicks Richardson: Roanoke, Virginia:

“The Beatles White Album is one of my all-time favorites. I remember getting this album for Christmas and listening to it non-stop for weeks. It’s iconic. Wow! Favorite song off the album? I really like “Glass Onion” for the historical references (although Paul was not the walrus — John was) and I still remember photos of Paul with his sheepdog Martha, so “Martha My Dear” is a big fave too. I’ve always liked “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by George — it’s one of his best Beatles songs. It is just too hard to pick just one favorite.”

Gayle Deel: Roanoke, Virginia:

“The White Album – 50 years ago – I was 14.  I had been what I call myself an ‘original Beatlemaniac’ since 9 years old. This album helped to continue the hunger for more music, more Beatles, more growth in their societal involvement.
The album was an eclectic contribution by all four of my favorite musicians and idols.

What I know factually is that they recorded for many weeks and for many 24-hour marathons and it was during this period that they first recorded on an eight-track tape machine.

From the hard driving “Back in the U.S.S.R.” to the ironic “Happiness is a Warm Gun” to the moving “Julia” or the most beautiful of the album  – George’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – I loved them all. I can’t choose. It is impossible.

Love you John, Paul, George and Ringo – thank you for all the creativity, the dedication, the genius that has personally helped me through many times and provided me with a lifetime of memories.” 

Dave Delaney: Roanoke, Virginia:

“I have definitely gone through phases with the White Album. I remember my brother Steve and I hearing this for the first time in late 1968, visiting our grandparents for Thanksgiving. The next-door neighbor had a teenager who had gotten it and played it for us.

Even at 11 years old I could tell that these were no longer songs meant to blow up the pop charts. This was music that older kids would sit down and listen to, even more so than Sgt. Pepper’s had been. Later I remember thinking that the whole album was a bit of a sloppy attempt at self-indulgence (“yeah we’re the Beatles – it doesn’t matter what we play – people will listen to it”). Only later did I really come to appreciate that this was indeed additional ground-breaking work. I grew to love this album so much that I named my car after it! And the Beatles song people most ask me to play when I’m sitting around holding a guitar is ‘Blackbird.’”

Steve Delaney: Virginia Beach, Virginia:

“I think perhaps more than any album, the White Album highlighted the amazing range of musical styles they were able to pull off. Contrast “Julia” with “Helter Skelter” or “Yer Blues” with “Mother Nature’s Son.” Then add in unusual tracks like “Ob-La-Di” or “Piggies” and you have a smorgasbord of styles and sounds.

It also might be interesting to point out that the White Album wasn’t entirely recorded at Abbey Road. A few tracks were recorded at Trident Studios in London. They had 8 track equipment as opposed to EMI’s 4 track machines.”

Here are the 30 tracks on the White Album:

  • Side 1

Back In The USSR

Dear Prudence

Glass Onion

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Wild Honey Pie

The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Happiness Is A Warm Gu

  • Side 2

Martha My Dear

I’m So Tired

Blackbird

Piggies

Rocky Raccoon

Don’t Pass Me By

Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?

I Will

Julia

  • Side 3

Birthday

Yer Blues

Mother Nature’s Son

Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey

Sexy Sadie

Helter Skelter

Long, Long, Long

  • Side 4

Revolution 1

Honey Pie

Savoy Truffle

Cry Baby Cry

Revolution 9

Good Night

Fifty years after the White Album was released, it remains one of the greatest rock albums of the 20th Century. In 2003, the White Album was ranked number 10 on the Rolling Stone “Greatest Albums of All Time” listing.

Critics all rank the White Album as one of the top three Beatles albums of all time. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but one thing is sure: The Beatles’ White Album is a beautiful collection of songs and is now celebrating 50 years of wonderful music.

They say it’s your birthday: I am sure glad that John, Paul, George and Ringo recorded the White Album, “All Those Years Ago.” Rock on!

 

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Virginia Artists

Josey Lackey & Tim Lowe: Virginian Artists on the Rise

Josey Lackey with guitar.

It was a perfect sunny October afternoon in Botetourt County, Virginia when I met Virginian recording artist Josey Lackey for the first time. I had the pleasure of attending one of her concerts at Blue Ridge Vineyard that afternoon. I also got to hear Tim Lowe, another musical artist, who opened up for Josey at the concert venue.

Highlighting new and promising Virginian artists is one of the goals I have writing this blog and I am glad to share on these two budding artists.

I first learned of Joesy ‘s music while communicating with her step-grandmother Cheryl Miller Lackey. She is a regular reader of my blog and knew that I feature Virginian artists like Caroline Weinroth/Cinema Hearts and Adele Marie on a regular basis. Cheryl also enjoyed reading about legendary Roanoke band the Kings and suggested that I feature Josey in one of my future blog messages.

So I agreed to Cheryl’s suggestion of attending one of Josey’s concerts. Since I had not ever heard Josey sing before, I didn’t know what to expect when I attended her concert during the first Sunday in October. After listening to the first couple songs at Josey’s show, I can tell you: She did not disappoint. Josey’s performance was engaging and refreshing.

Josey Lackey: Photo by Jenna B Photography.

I met Josey 30 minutes before the start of her show and had the opportunity to interview the 17 year-old singer. Lackey is a senior at James River High School in Buchanan, Virginia and is the starting catcher for her varsity softball team. During the 2018 season, Josey was first all-district and all-conference with her catching skills.

In addition to her softball activities, Josey is taking classes this fall to become an ENT. She also has a goal to study nursing at either Radford University or James Madison University after her graduation from high school in 2019.

Obviously, music is Josey’s passion and she has been furthering her music career during the past two years. She just released her first album, “Made in Virginia,” this past August. Lackey maintains a limited concert schedule on weekends during the school year.

Another young musical talent that I met at Josey’s concert was Virginian singer-songwriter Tim Lowe. It was an unexpected pleasure to speak with Tim and to hear his music as he performed an eight-song music set prior to Josey taking the stage.

Tim Lowe

Tim is a 2017 graduate of James River High School in Buchanan, Virginia and uses social media sites like Instagram and YouTube to promote his new music projects.

Tim released his first single, “Wildfire Season,” in September and in October he debuted the instrumental song “Coloring,” which features Tim playing every instrument on the tune. Later on this month, he has scheduled the release of another song called, “Virginia Summers.”

For Tim’s eight-song set, he mixed self-penned songs and cover versions of pop and rock tunes. One of the highlights for me was Lowe’s performance of “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

The other song on Tim’s set that stood out to me was Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” Before he sang the song, Tim gave a shout out to his girlfriend Hope McCormick, who was in the audience. Lowe announced that Hope had purchased tickets for his birthday to see Bob Dylan’s Roanoke concert on November 10th.

After a short break, Josey came on stage to perform two sets for the afternoon. My best description of her music is a pop/country mix. Josey’s vocals are polished for a young singer and she has a smooth, modern country feel to her voice.

During Josey’s concert, she accompanied herself with a guitar and performed some well-crafted songs. She sang many self-written songs along with a few cover versions from Simon & Garfunkel, Guns ‘N Roses and Bob Dylan.

“Take Me To Georgia” was one of the original songs performed at the concert. Josey shared this with me before the show, explaining why the song is meaningful to her:

“The first song that I ever played in front of anyone was ‘Take Me to Georgia.’ I was with my aunt and uncle in Peachtree City, GA. We decided to eat dinner at their golf resort right down the road. My aunt, Deb, went over to the man playing music on the patio and asked him if I could play one of my original songs. I had no clue, and it was TERRIFYING! He ended up calling me up there, and everyone loved the song! It was so thrilling, and that’s when I knew that I wanted to play as much as I could. I really have my aunt to thank for helping me overcome that fear of sharing my music with people.”

Josey Lackey performing at Blue Ridge Vineyard.

A second song that Lackey performed was, “Daddy’s Song,” a song that she wrote as a tribute to her father. Here are Josey’s thoughts on this tune:

“‘Daddy’s Song’ is another one of my favorites. I wrote it for my dad about two Father’s Days ago. I recorded and put it on a CD for him, and he cried like a baby!”

A third highlight of the concert was the song “Girl’s Night” and Josey revealed to me about how this song came to be written:

“’Girl’s Night’ was inspired by my best friend, Evie, and I. We’ve been close since we were little, and I loved being able to compose a song about that bond.”

Josey Lackey at Blue Ridge Vineyard concert, October 7, 2018.

For anyone interested in Josey’s music and purchasing her CD “Made in Virginia,” you can access her Facebook page here.

Tim Lowe is also available on social media. Click here to view his Instagram.

After the concert ended, I asked Lackey to send me some information on her career and what music means in her life. Here is what Josey shared with me:

Josey Lackey: Photo by Jenna B Photography.

“I’ve always been so thankful for the blessings upon blessings that music has given me. It has truly made the hard times seem like a breeze, and the great times even better! People will ask me, ‘When did you start singing?’ and I really can’t give an answer to that. A better question would be, ‘Have you ever stopped?’ because I really can’t remember a time when I wasn’t singing.”

“Picking up a guitar and writing my own music has been the best therapy for me during my high school years, and I know it’ll continue to help me wherever I go in life. That is what makes me so incredibly thankful for music. Wherever you go, it’ll follow you. You can never escape it, and I don’t think I’ll ever want to. From singing with my grandmother as a baby to being a little rebellious and getting a guitar tattooed on my ankle. music has and always will be a part of who I am. “

I was thankful that I had the opportunity to attend the concert of Josey Lackey and Tim Lowe last month at Blue Ridge Vineyard. As Josey expressed to me: “I am so happy to be able to write music freely and have it as a stress-reliever.” It is a good thing to hear new songs from emerging Virginian music artists. Here is hoping that I will get to hear much more new music in the future from Josey and Tim.

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