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Good Grief Charlie Brown – We Love You

(I wanted to rerun this as Halloween is not the same without the Great Pumpkin – Still can not help but feel that Charles Schulz did something so very right)

Had the privilege of taking in The Peanuts Movie and couldn’t help feeling that Charles Schulz would be so proud of his son Craig and grandson Bryan with the beautiful homage paid to him and the characters he so lovingly created.

The particular animation and vibrant colour they fought for set an ambience that took every Peanuts lover back to the excitement of days gone by – holiday specials with Charlie Brown and those delicious Kraft commercials.

Staying true to Charles’ vision it was refreshing to see not an iphone, ipod or any other technological device in sight. Instead relying on colour, dialogue and sound effects to lead the way.

This screen play was written by Cornelius Uliano who honoured the storyline and as Bryan Schulz said “If you change one line it’s not a Peanuts comic strip. If you need inspiration you go back and look at the old comic strips Grandpa had done.”

“Peanuts” comic strip “isn’t a laugh-out-loud strip, it’s a chuckle strip. I told them that this is sophisticated humor. You almost had to grow up with my dad to be able to write this movie.” Craig Schulz said.

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Matt Wilson Releases ‘Honey & Salt’ – Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg

‘Honey & Salt’

Wilson succeeds wonderfully, bringing Sandburg’s voice alive with each interpretation on ‘Honey & Salt…

Doug Hall

It’s not often that a musician can find inspiration in his favorite poet, compose a moving palette of jazz interpretations, while also sharing a distant relationship on the very same family tree. Jazz musician, drummer, composer and band leader Matt Wilson can make just that claim, with feeling and love for the American “poet of the people” Carl Sandburg, on his latest release ‘Honey and Salt – (Music inspired by the poetry of Carl Sandburg).’ Both Wilson and Sandburg were born in Knoxville County, Illinois, sharing Midwestern roots but during remarkably different times. Sandburg, born a decade after the American Civil War and witnessing the impact of the industrial age, then WWI, the Great Depression, WWII and onward to the tumultuous 1960’s – supporting the civil rights movement in his 80’s and becoming the first white man to be honored by the NAACP – had witnessed an extraordinary period of history.

An acclaimed jazz drummer and Grammy nominee, Wilson’s musical background has also included many roles as both band leader (the Matt Wilson Quartet, Arts & Crafts, Christmas Tree-O, Topsy Turvy and Big Happy Family), composer and performer. Wilson’s 13th recording as leader for Palmetto Records, ‘Honey and Salt’, received a 5-star review from DownBeat magazine which called it “irresistible.” Wilson points out that this creative thought process has been “germinating since 2001” with other projects and life taking up time. “Keeping it on the back-burner”, he finally settled to complete the music composition process in the spring of 2016, also coinciding with the 50th year anniversary of Sandburg’s death.

Wilson’s Midwestern association with his rural regional surroundings lent itself to reflect on Sandburg’s musings as a poet, and an interconnection to music. Wilson articulates the influence, “as you get older you start to appreciate regional connections a lot more, but I was always fascinated because it (Sandburg’s poetry) didn’t rhyme. That aligned with my taste in music at that time, when I was exploring all different kinds of music.”

Hand picking a selection of poems from Sandburg’s 1963 collection of poetry, ‘Honey and Salt’, Wilson brings to attention Sandburg’s poetry with a small, beautiful and poignant sampling, putting verse to song and musical expression in a jazz context. Importantly as well, listeners may follow this ‘string’ as an attachment to the wider range of contributions by this esteemed man of words. Sandburg won three Pulitzer Prizes, a Grammy Award, wrote the definitive biography of Abraham Lincoln, won the distinguished Robert Frost Medal for poetry, created an anthology of American folk songs, American Songbag, published an endearing and hugely popular ‘American tales’ children’s book, Rootabaga Stories, and performed and travelled the country collecting traditional folk songs. In Wilson’s words, “Sandburg was a renaissance man and poet of the people. I feel sometimes that of all the celebrated American poets, he doesn’t really get his due. Hopefully we can help his work get more recognition in some small way.”

Wilson succeeds wonderfully, bringing Sandburg’s voice alive with each interpretation on ‘Honey and Salt’. The creative result is a stirring, at times gritty, heart-felt reflection in jazz tones, voice, rhythm and beat – that puts the plain-speaking words of the populist poet in front of the listener, (read by guest speakers and sung), evoking a powerful dignity and putting Sandburg in the room with you.

When the band of musicians was forming for this recording, Wilson had already started a musical connection with the powerful and soulful recording artist, vocalist and gritty, rhythmic jazz guitarist Dawn Thomson, who also has loved the verse and poetry of Sandburg (listen to her own “Sleep Impressions” inspired by Sandburg’s poetry). Similarly, an extraordinary multi-reedist, Jeff Lederer, was in the mix as well, and then came bassist, NYU faculty instructor and cultural award winner from Germany, Martin Wind, and prominent jazz faculty member and high-demand trumpeter and cornetist Ron Miles from Denver. Wilson was ecstatic and humbled by the chemistry and talent assembled, “I was overwhelmed by the artistry and passion of the music on this album (Honey and Salt) – and blessed to have them.”

Similar enthusiasm and accolades come from Wilson for the collaboration of guests including household names in jazz (Christian McBride, Bill Frisell, Joe Lavano, John Scofield and others) adding their own voice and inflection as they read aloud verses of Sandburg’s poetry to the accompaniment of paired jazz beat, rhythm and improvisation, as Wilson observed,
“They all brought their own ways of interpretation.”

Some stand-out selections include ‘Soup’ about a celebrity just eating his soup from an observer’s point of view, seen as just ordinary “folk” with a driving beat and sultry ‘talking’ jazz voice from Thomson, with bass and then overlay of horns – and additional gritty guitar from Thomson’s hand. ‘Anywhere and Everywhere People’ remains contemporary in its message of self-adulation – as our leading political figures or other “wanna be famous” social media figures continue to feeding on narcissism. With funky backbeat driven by bass and drums, and competing eclectic trumpet and cornet chorus, a baritone voice delivered by Christian McBride (Grammy award-winning bassist, international jazz performer, educator, and artistic director of the Newport Jazz Festival) adds weight to the feeling. And then with the forlorn refrain in the poem “As Wave Follows Wave”, Sandburg spells out the futility of destiny, “man’s life is a candle in the wind… as wave follows wave… so new men take old men’s places.” With a beautiful dream-like serene trumpet introduction setting the tone, and acoustic guitar accompaniment, we, the listener, contemplate the journey.

Each song arrangement is a balance of interplay between the musicians and Sandburg’s ‘voice’, setting a tone for the listener to experience the poetry as more than lyrics overlaying instrumental accompaniment. Instead, the musicianship and featured instrument or solos don’t interfere with the sparse verse but punctuate the line breaks, with a driving drum beat or soft coronate solo – and when they mix together – both word and note – the impact of the weight and meaning of each verse is never lost. Delivering these lines with diverse and distinctive voices, the relevance of the poetic words from ‘Honey and Salt’ forces you to process an ‘Americana’ of Sandburg’s generation that is still a reflection of who we are today.

Besides poetry, as Wilson points out, Sandburg loved jazz (played guitar and sang) –, and above all ‘appreciated the moment’ – which is exactly where Wilson’s ‘Honey and Salt’ takes us.

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Doug Hall
My lifelong passion for writing and literature (which are wed to each other) continues to stay active, with art and cultural freelance writing assignments for on-line entertainment web sites. Home has been New England, Rocky Mountains, and London and lots of places travelled through books and points of view. “Creativity is a continual surprise.” ― Ray Bradbury

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David Ramirez- On Tour Now

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Photography by: Ruben Marin

Written by: Britt Nicole 

David Ramirez is a man in love. In love with music, the world and the very art of both: their intimate power to change people and affect change, in a multitude of ways. You can feel that he writes from experience, from his heart and explorations with the world and with himself—not just what he imagines it to be.

Since his late teens, he’s written his way through life, and you can hear it in his music, song-to-song, album-to-album. It’s completely organic and relatable—his voice changes and molds with his character, the visions he’s seen and stories he tells, just like growing up.

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A born-Texan now based in Austin, he and his new band take you through childhood, death and everything in between. He shares moments he’s felt free, and moments he’s felt confined, visions of his more conservative childhood and visions of an open world. All with beautiful country/folk/rock, Tom Petty-esque tunes and a melodic Johnny Cash-like voice, wise beyond its years.

The music is nothing short of healing, invigorating, like the best music is.

“After the show, I would hope that [my fans] feel something. When you go see a great movie, you’re a different person walking out of that film then you were going into it. I want to do great work, and that applies to the shows as well. I want it to be a good time, but I do hope that people walk out of here differently then they came. That’s always the goal.”

And with the crowd as it was—it was clear that everyone felt more than just a good time. Clusters of fans sang along, cheered exuberantly at the start of a melodic love ballad, even slow-danced. Maybe they, too, had lived a free life, traveling in their car for 6-months, like David, or maybe they had experienced another similar feeling, through a completely different experience. Regardless, his music is relatable.

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Though the event was at a popular bar and music venue, it was clear that a majority of the fans came specifically for David and his headline tour, maybe even back from his last San Diego show in May.

With a musician who believes in growth, life and reflection—and with a new band he’s excited to tour with—we can only expect much greater things.

David Ramirez On Tour Now

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Leon Bridges Takes The Commodore Ballroom – Vancouver

all photo credits: Fabrizio Belardetti

Old soul meets new as Leon Bridges rocked the heart of the Commodore Ballroom Tuesday night in Vancouver.

Opening the evening was Kali Uchis Virginia raised, Columbian born singer, songwriter who commands the presence of a new Amy Winehouse. She was a great choice transitioning you from the bustle of Granville Street and encouraging you to leave it all outside.

a kaile uchis

With smiles infectious the moment Leon walked on stage it was apparent he was simply meant to be there. This gent of soul, with rhythm and beats flowing in around and through resonated effortlessly with all who came in.

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I looked out over the crowd watching the room bounce with energy washing over all with the roaring hush of his stage presence. It felt a privilege to be a part of this circle of happiness.
Music moves us in many ways and Leon simply makes you feel good and leaves you wondering where does all that come from?
Having learned to play guitar a mere four years ago and securing interest to record with Sony and Niles City Sound in August of 2014 there has hardly been time for him to catch his breath.
Recording straight to tape seems natural allowing you to get what you feel and what you feel with Leon is the real deal.

a leon bridges guitar

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With songs born from his humble yet predetermined destination.
He’s been effortlessly winning hearts of music lovers one by one with ‘Coming Home’ which he says “is a simple song about faithfulness” – something the human race could use more of.

Leon Bridges was born with a gift and the ability to shine light on a world that is thirsty for what he has to offer. His refreshing presence is long over due and definitely here to stay.

Our greatest wish for him is that he will always hold on to the sense of joy and wonder that he holds today and continue to rise up and honour his calling.

Leon Bridges ‘take me to your river, I wanna go.’

L E O N   B R I D G E S 

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