AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BRUCE COCKBURN/CROWING IGNITES

Artists and their art evolve. The youngster that strummed their first chord into a four-track recorder decades ago has matured in so many ways since then – physically, emotionally, and artistically. However, without realizing it, their audience refuses to let the artist grow – they want them to stay the same as when they first connected with them. While we all know better now, there was a time when teens all over the world were dismayed when The Beatles grew facial hair and served up “Strawberry Fields Forever” to the masses in 1967. The kids wanted the same band that Ed Sullivan introduced them to three years earlier. Thankfully, audiences quickly adapted to the Fabs’ growth as a band. The same can’t be said for so many other artists over the years. Audiences can be so fickle sometimes… […]

By | September 20th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|0 Comments

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BON IVER/I,I

Sometimes, an artist’s career trajectory is carefully planned. From label contracts and recording budgets to marketing strategies and touring schedules, the build up to a debut album is often less about music and more about business. However, there are always exceptions to every rule and singer/songwriter Justin Vernon is one of those exceptions. The origins of his band, Bon Iver, and their 2007 debut album started almost by accident and the subsequent commercial success of the band has always been about the music and nothing else. Sure, critical success and two Grammy Awards are always good for ‘business’ but for Vernon, it has always been about the music. And to think that it all started in a cabin in Wisconsin… […]

By | August 30th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BON IVER/I,I

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: SMOOTH HOUND SMITH/DOG IN A MANGER

Smooth Hound Smith has come a long way since they formed in Southern California. Yes, you read that right –  Smooth Hound Smith is a they, not a he or a she. Comprised of multi-instrumentalist Zack Smith and his wife, vocalist/percussionist Caitlin Doyle-Smith, the duo formed in Southern California back in 2012. Caitlin was performing with her band Dustbowl Revival and Zack sat in on one of their sets. Without even realizing it, the seeds of their future were planted at that very moment. Caitlin would eventually add percussion and vocals to Zack’s ‘one man band’ performances.  Marriage would soon follow. Eventually, Zack’s ‘one man band’ concept was cast aside, replaced with the introduction of Smooth Hound Smith as a duo. Along the way, Zack and Caitlin left the comforts of Southern California, eventually settling in East Nashville, Tennessee. […]

By | August 9th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: SMOOTH HOUND SMITH/DOG IN A MANGER

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BERLIN/TRANSENDANCE

The history of Synth/Electro Pop band Berlin spans four decades and includes a healthy handful of hit singles, a few musical detours, a break-up, some reunions, and a legacy that refused to die. The roots of the band were planted in 1978 when John Crawford formed his first band, The Toys. Within a year, the band had changed their name to Berlin and the core line-up featured vocalist Terri Nunn, keyboardist/guitarist David Diamond, and bassist Crawford. Nunn left after the release of their debut album and the band soldiered on with a new vocalist before briefly calling it a day. With band members pursuing other projects, Crawford decided to revive Berlin for an EP side-project. He reached out to Nunn, who agreed to rejoin. When PLEASURE VICTIM was released in 1982, its success surprised everyone. Armed with three classic radio hits – “Sex (I’m A…)”, “The Metro”, and “Masquerade” – PLEASURE VICTIM was a smash and paved the way for even more success. […]

By | August 2nd, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BERLIN/TRANSENDANCE

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: PARTICLE KID/WINDOW ROCK

It all started way back in 1956 when singer/songwriter Willie Nelson first started making a name for himself as a Country Music songwriter. Willie was a hugely successful songwriter but his solo career limped along until the ‘70s, when he finally became a superstar. Country Music has morphed and changed over the years, making it more difficult for Willie to score a hit in the charts today. However, Willie is still a superstar and will forever remain so. In between the hits – both on the charts and on the bong – Willie has built up a family, which includes seven children. As expected, his kids learned a thing or two from their pops and have ventured into the music business to make their mark… […]

By | July 26th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: PARTICLE KID/WINDOW ROCK

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BILLY BRANCH & THE SONS OF BLUES: ROOTS AND BRANCHES

The harmonica has long been a neglected instrument in Rock music.  In a musical environment ruled by guitars, drums, keyboards, and vocals (including harmonies), the harmonica – AKA mouth organ – is often used as a novelty… and even then, very rarely. There are those artists who have managed to fit the harmonica into their hits – Billy Joel, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, etc. – but by and large, there aren’t many Rock musicians who proclaim themselves as first and foremost a harmonica player. However, if you’re talking about the Blues, that is a completely different story. Blues musicians known chiefly as harmonica players include James Cotton, Sonny Boy Williamson, Charlie Musselwhite, Junior Wells, Kim Wilson (Fabulous Thunderbirds), Paul Butterfield, Mark Feltham (Nine Below Zero), and many others. […]

By | July 5th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BILLY BRANCH & THE SONS OF BLUES: ROOTS AND BRANCHES

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: MINDI ABAIR AND THE BONESHAKERS/NO GOOD DEED

The Blues genre may have spent the last century travelling around the world, but it has remained America’s music. Born from the crust of the earth, the Blues came to life when it was introduced to the sweat of humanity and the darkness buried deep in the hearts of America’s downtrodden. While Blues Music had been around for decades, Robert Johnson’s deal with the Devil helped to propel the genre forward. In the 80 years since that deal went down at the Crossroads, Blues has remained the music of the people. It is also the foundation of practically every genre that has come since – from Folk to Country to Jazz to Rock. The Blues is part of us and we are part of the Blues. […]

By | June 28th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: MINDI ABAIR AND THE BONESHAKERS/NO GOOD DEED

MINDI ABAIR & THE BONESHAKERS: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A!

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: Your 2018 album NO GOOD DEED is just about to be released. How are you feeling about the way the album turned out and the reaction to it so far? MINDI ABAIR: This album is deep to me. It feels like the band has gelled … we complete each other’s sentences musically and play together so effortlessly at this point. We joined forces as Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers at the beginning of 2015, but I had played with Randy Jacobs for 20 years before that, and Rodney Lee has been in my band for 17 years. Third Richardson is from my hometown. I hear the camaraderie and the friendship and the sheer abandon we have playing together, and I love it. We chose songs we loved, whether we wrote them or someone else did, and we played them like only we would. […]

By | June 14th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on MINDI ABAIR & THE BONESHAKERS: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A!

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: AURORA/A DIFFERENT KIND OF HUMAN (STEP 2)

Norway isn’t just the hotbed of Black Metal, you know. While that genre has kept a handful of Norwegian musicians gainfully employed, the country has also given us some artists who remain popular throughout the rest of the world. Mentioning Classical composer Edvard Grieg is a given, but many other influential artists hail from Norway including a-Ha, Jan Garbarek, Royksopp, Terje Rypdal, Jaga Jazzist, production team Stargate, and Anni-Frid ‘Frida’ Lyngstad, one of the two A’s in ABBA. With each passing year, Norwegian artists make their presence known outside their homeland and Aurora Laura Aksnes, who releases music under the name Aurora, is now making waves as she dances on the cup of international stardom. […]

By | June 7th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: AURORA/A DIFFERENT KIND OF HUMAN (STEP 2)

MICHAEL NESMITH/SONGS (12CDs) review: SPAZ explores the musical universe of Michael Nesmith!

THE LONG REVIEW: Fifty-three years after he stepped into the limelight with the release of The Monkees’ debut single in August of 1966, Michael Nesmith remains a musical enigma. The story of The Monkees has been told so many times – perhaps TOO many times – so I’ll respectfully skip over most of the details. One thing I will mention is how Nesmith seemed slightly out of step with the Pop charts yet completely in step and confident of his own musical vision. While Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones handled the bulk of the lead vocals for The Monkees’ glorious hits, Nesmith added a sophisticated depth to the album tracks he wrote and/or produced. Although the most naturally gifted as a songwriter in the band, his lead vocals were not featured on a Monkees A-side until 1969, the year he graced the topside of two singles in a row! […]

By | June 6th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on MICHAEL NESMITH/SONGS (12CDs) review: SPAZ explores the musical universe of Michael Nesmith!