Won’t You Help

The public service announcements looking for dollars to help third world kids are really going in…hard.

One I’m seeing a lot of these days show a little boy scooping up multi-colored water into a bucket with many things floating in it. He’s learned how to dip from the section with the least chunks. The narrator intones soberly with shame, “If you saw your kids playing around this kind of filthy dirty water, you’d tell them to get the hell out of there. But poor Alphonso has no choice. He has to bring this water back to his family because it’s the only water available.” Now comes the great pitch; for only 9 cents a month Alphonso can have clean water. Every time I see this on TV I wonder how deep is that Poland Spring? We seem to be pulling a helluva lot of water from that one spot alone.

Another PSA tugs even harder on the heart strings. It’s the one for abused animals that shows dogs, cats and horses looking horrible and then imagine what they would say if they could talk.

“Why won’t they feed me?” asks an emaciated horse. The poor old chimp in this spot seems to be saying, “I’m just waiting for you to turn off the video camera so I can eat your face.” They show us a montage of terrified animals, looking as pitiful as possible. At the end of these spots, we are offered a shirt, jacket, blanket, coffee mug or some other trinket to let everyone know we care.

How about skipping the gifts and use the money to fix up these abused animals? Now we return to our regularly scheduled program. We watch as a judge on a cooking competition show examines a forkful of salmon, then proclaims it’s perfectly cooked. I’m thinking Alphonso is not quite so persnickety.

William Stephenson

‘In A Bottle’ by Ty Showers

Need a little soundtrack to muffle out your clinking drinks?! Happy hour is just a Ty Showers song away! Try ‘In A Bottle’ on for size; an awesome jazz funk fusion that is sure to get you moving and those drinks flowing!

Calming yet cheerful, this is the type of track you can just jam or mellow out to. Filled with interesting percussion sounds as well as some uncanny instrumentation, this tune is like a party in a track. With a funky introduction that opens up and slowly trickles out into cool, jazzy core of the track, the tome is set from the moment you press play on this piece. Ending just as strong as it begins, this track keeps up the party-like pace until it slowly tapers off at the end.

This is for those evenings/ weekends off…or any other time you can getaway for drinks, or even if you just wish you could. You don’t have to be a drinker/partier to appreciate the ambiance of this track (though it certainly helps) all you need to do is be able to appreciate a good time and even greater music. Need to unwind with a few drinks?! Play ‘In A Bottle’ by Ty Showers and you’re already halfway there…

Venus L

Meet Gyre

A budding legend in his own right, the latest Canadian export, Gyre has been writing and recording his own brand of electronically charged, downtempo, chill out music for upwards of 17 years. A champion of instrumentation, this multifaceted musician is adept in playing an array of instruments and possesses a plethora of other music-related proficiencies. Perhaps most notably, he plays the drums, guitar, bass, harmonica, accordion and he even performs vocals.

A certain prodigy of sorts, Gyre has also been playing the piano since the ripe old age of 4, reads and writes standard notation, and freely utilizes musical theory when creating his epic compositions. Almost equally impressive, the artist has been producing and mixing for nearly a decade.

Presently focusing on his musical future, this rising star has been broadening his horizons. Now flexing his talents in an alternative rock band by the name of “RDO” or Roy Davidson Orchestra, Gyre has also added the prestige of ‘lead singer’ and ‘rhythm guitarist’ to his already stellar resume. To top it all off, he has taken on the hat of musical entrepreneur. Co-founder of his own recording company, Yamamonkey Records, specializing in recording and promoting fellow local indie artists, this young mogul promises his following a fanciful trip to the top. Indeed, meet our new star, Gyre!

Venus L

Pack a bag and take a trip to Ceretta’s House

Calima Shatiday pulls a page out of the Ty Showers’ playbook on this one, setting up a steady, move-and-groove beat at about 106 per minute—a favorite Ty tempo—and taking it out for a good long walk before bringing in the brass over the top. “Ceretta’s House” is the title track of Shatiday’s 2010 release, but it would be at home on just about any album with an eponymous Showers in the title.

Maybe sharing a label with Taliferro’s long-time maestro of electronic jazz and funk has rubbed off a little—a welcome influence for any musician working in these genres. The drum programming here is nicely naturalistic, and there’s a decisive, authoritative snap from first measure to last that suggests a mature confidence.

The synth-trumpet that takes a sustained solo through three minutes of the 3:50 running time has a big, roomy quality. It sounds like it’s literally bouncing off the walls, echoing in a way that reminds me just slightly of an old Paul Horn album recorded inside the Taj Mahal. That music was nothing like this, but the spacious, reflective feel comes from somewhere on the same block.

I doubt Ceretta lives near the Taj Mahal. Wherever she lives, and whoever she is (I assume it’s a she), sounds as if she’s got a great place to hang. Imagine the steam and smell of hot food coming out of the kitchen, a dining room table where people are talking and laughing, and of course, good music on the stereo. “I want to go there,” as the kids say.

Take a walk to “Ceretta’s House” in your mind. Pack a bag. You’ll want to stay awhile.

Jim Howard

The Beatdown

When my mind goes into wandering mode, sometimes I think about what I’d do in an emergency. Would I freeze up, fall to the floor and curl up into a ball? Maybe if I survived a plane crash, I would remember what I’ve learned watching disaster movies and crawl around trying to help others. I’d like to think if I was in that Brooklyn McDonald’s when that young girl got jumped last week, I would have tried to somehow diffuse the situation before it got out of hand.

“Welp, time to break out my camera phone and get this on video so I can post it before the fight is over! Oh, and ladies you might want to put your weaves in this bucket, no sense in getting them all tangled up.”

It’s easy for me to say that I would have intervened when it was clear that this was a severe attack by several on one. That’s why I’m saying it. Still, I probably would’ve been jumped myself by the girls or even the guys who felt I shouldn’t be interfering. I am not surprised no one stepped in until the end-and if that guy didn’t-we would have seen a murder. Nowadays, it is more important to record events than experience them in real time. Facebook and Instagram have become slide shows and home movies of the lives of people we barely know. We decided that was boring back in the 50’s and 60’s.

Everything about this beat down was sickening, but the worst was the victim claiming fame for being assaulted and humiliated. Instead of cooperating with the hated cops, she opted to accept “congratulations” on social media.

I caught a beating in high school from a sax player. I started it, but came up woefully short in the ensuing throw down and ended up with a beauty of a black eye. When I came home my dad laughed like a hyena before giving me a hunk of raw steak to put on my eye. The last thing I wanted was publicity.

These kids today….

William Stephenson

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