Thursday, April 25, 2013

More Favorite Songs

Jamie N. Commons on Conan

I can't believe it's been a year! A year since my last 'Favorite Songs' playlist. In fact, I went back today and checked, and it's been exactly one year to the day since I last compiled a favorite songs playlist. Well, I've been kind of busy. But I was inspired to compile today's list because I need a little assistance from folks willing to give the first song on my playlist a listen and help me figure out what other song it's reminiscent of, because something's lurking there, in the background of my musical brain, but for the life of me I can't put my finger on it.

 For those of you who are new to Mistress Of The Mix, there are some ground rules to my 'Favorite Songs' playlists. These are the songs which have risen to the top of my own churned mix....they are the heavy cream on top of my buttery musical choices over the past 6 months (or, in this case, the past year). They are not necessarily new pieces of music, but they absolutely must have been new to my iTunes during that period. So there are a few rare old pieces that make it onto the list, but they are pieces that I didn't have daily, immediate access to prior to adding them to my iTunes.

In putting together today's column, something became pathetically obvious to me. I'm a little bit ashamed to admit it, because I really should be cooler than this.

In the past year of my life, I have become exposed to new cool and awesome music in just a few ways:

  • By listening to Open Air on JPR (and if you have not yet checked out our new morning DJ from 9 to noon, Maestro Paul Gerardi, you are in for a treat! Tune in 89.7 immediately! He has turned me on to so much cool music recently! 
  • The free trial of SiriusXM satellite radio in my Subaru Outback. By the way, while I was thankful for the 3 tunes that I was turned onto during that 4 month trial, I felt it was somehow wrong and perhaps sacrilegious to be a career public radio professional and have satellite radio, so I cancelled it). But I'm keeping the car.
  • Through my teenage daughter and whatever ways she is turned on to new music.
  • TV. Through shows about Zombies, sarcastic New Yorkers and I can't believe I'm going to admit to this....reality TV. And worse.

 A short, pathetic list, I know....but we're just coming out of a long, sequestered winter. I'm sure my next Favorite Songs playlist will be full of amazing music that I was exposed to through friends sharing great music I've never heard of at my wedding, stuff I heard at outdoor festivals, and events at the Cascade Theatre (wait until you see the REST of the season lineup that hasn't been announced yet!!!! WOW!!! Other than that, my lip is zipped).

 But let me just say that I think you're gonna love today's playlist.

  1. Ride On-Right On - Phosphorescent  On This is currently my absolutely, no-doubt-about-it, favorite song, and right now I'm hearing it almost every day on JPR. Thank you Paul!!! Now if only I could figure out what old rock song this reminds me of.
  2. Rumble & Sway - Jamie N. Commons My daughter has taken to watching Conan lately. The talk show, not the Governator's old movies. This guy was on a few weeks ago, and I was mesmerized. Then about a week later, he was a live in-studio guest at JPR. One of those rare moments I wished I was working out of the Ashland studios instead of Redding. This British blues rocker is amazing. Unfortunately, he's not on Grooveshark, so you'll have to check him out in the video (above).
  3. Ain't No Rest For The Wicked - Cage The Elephant  This is one of those 'new to me' songs that's been out for awhile. I think it was one of the 3 tunes that I discovered after realizing that my new car came with satellite radio for a few months.
  4. Default - Django Django   Another satellite radio tune
  5. Bright Lights - CeeLo   I'm pretty sure I found this song through my daughter, but even she can't recall how she discovered it. We're thankful to Cee-Lo not only for this tune, but for his participation in the reality show that brought us the next two songs on my list
  6. How Ya Like Me Now - The Heavy Fans of this column may remember how I gushed over some of the songs that came into my radar after being covered on The Voice. This one was one of them, as sung by Tony Lucca. But The Heavy's version is almost as good.
  7. 99 Problems - Tony Lucca  This was also on The Voice, as sung by Tony Lucca, a cover of a cover. Tony did it best, and let's consider ourselves fortunate that his version is available to listen to today!
  8. Global Concepts - Robert DeLong  There's a couple of F Bombs in today's playlist, and I was actually taken a little off balance when the one in this song was dropped. Thank SiriusXM for getting this one stuck in my head.
  9. Catchafire - Toby Mac It might surprise you just a teensy bit to discover that I appreciate Christian Rock every once in awhile. Heck, it surprised me. Toby Mac is awesome, mainly because he sneaks his praise into awesome songs instead of hitting me over the head with it. 
  10. The Funeral - Band of Horses  I'm a sucker for How I Met Your Mother, so I was crying the first time I heard this song, in the episode where Marshall finds out that his father has passed away. And then the Dubstep remix came out, and it's become one of our favorite 'driving to school songs of 2013.'
  11. Koriass - Saint Eustache  French Canadian Rap Pop. It's so cool that I don't mind that I can only pick up every 14th word.
  12. On Top Of The World - Imagine Dragons   Another nod to my daughter and her friends for introducing me to the only band that has two spots in this favorite songs playlist. I just love an upbeat song with handclaps!
  13. Black & Gold - Sam Sparro I heard this song from an Australian crooner about 400 times when my daughter was rehearsing for her last dance recital performance, and fell in love with it. So while she introduced me to it, the real thanks goes to her dance teacher at U-Prep, Marissa Kinneavy. 
  14. Lights - Grasscut I'm just going to rip the bandaid right off of this one. TV commercial. It was a TV commercial. I hate it when I have to confess that I heard a cool song for the first time during a TV commercial. 
  15. Amsterdam - Imagine Dragons By the way, I thought for sure this band was from England or Scotland or something like that. I was kind of floored when I found out they're from Las Vegas.
  16. First of the Year - Skrillex Another song my daughter and her friends turned me on to. From their name, I thought for sure it was going to be screamo (look it up). I was pleasantly surprised!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

And now for something completely different

Today you're going to get a rare backstage peek into the life of the Mistress of The Mix. An actual backstage story. And then I'm going to ask you for money.

Jefferson Public Radio and the Cascade Theatre presented comedian Dana Carvey onstage last Saturday night in a completely sold out show. I'm sure that anyone who was there will tell you that he was amazingly hilarious. And lucky me, I got to play Mistress of Ceremonies!

Chances are, if you've been to a few JPR shows at the Cascade Theatre, you've seen me get up and do my shtick. A few minutes before the show starts the lights (hopefully) blink, the audience (hopefully) takes to their seats as the lights dim, and then I come out on stage, thank the sponsors, tease a few upcoming shows, try to say something sort of funny but (hopefully) innocuous that it won't be misunderstood and elicit an angry letter to the editor the next day (yeah, that happened. And for the record, I did not call the vice president stupid). Then I try to get off that stage as quickly as I can so that the main act (or the opener) can get to work entertaining folks.

Serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre since it re-opened in 2004 has allowed me to have some rare, even priceless experiences. I was invited to sing onstage with Pink Martini (a dream come true). I chatted with Chris Isaak about burial plots, ate dinner with the Manhattan Transfer, and Taj Mahal made me blush so hard that you could see it from the back row when he growled in my ear like the tiger he is. But last Saturday night I had an exchange with Dana Carvey and his little crew backstage that will probably go into my list of Top 10 Cool Cascade moments of all time.

I didn't actually introduce Dana. My job that night was to introduce his warm up guy, another comedian named Larry. That's all I knew. Larry. So I was told to go down into the inner sanctum that we call the Green Room and find this Larry person, hopefully extract his last name from him, and see if there was anything else I needed to say. I didn't know what to expect, but when I walked into the Green Room looking for Larry, I wasn't really expecting to meet Dana Carvey. And usually, because the Green Room is intended to be a space of privacy and seclusion, I don't usually try to get an audience with the star of the evening unless they speak to me first. And I don't ask for autographs. I just try to be cool, collected, and uncommonly professional. Well I try. A lot of the time I end up walking away, slapping my forehead and rolling my eyeballs at myself.

But in this case, when I walked in the room looking for Larry the opener, Dana was just standing there, stuck out his hand, and said hi. We chatted for a few minutes, having a real conversation, just like normal people, except funnier. He's just so naturally funny (I guess he's on the right career path, eh). He started mining me for information on the area, and we talked about how he'd lived in Redding (although he says it's so far south that it's probably considered Anderson these days) as a little boy. He asked me about Bill Cosby and Brian Regan. He asked if we had packs of guys in spandex on bicycles. I totally misunderstood him, and replied, "Well, I didn't see any out in the lobby." It took me a minute to realize that he was asking if Redding was a good town to crack jokes about Lance Armstrong wannabe's.

Eventually I was able to talk to Larry, a subdued, mild fellow who told me that his name was Larry "Bubbles" Brown, aka Mr. Optimist. He said he couldn't seem to shake the name "Bubbles" no matter how hard he tried, although he admitted that it might have something to do with the fact that it's on his business card.

I told him that I was having sort of the same problem lately as I prepare for my upcoming nuptials, going from my former married name of Ing-Miller back to my maiden name of Ing.

"ING?" said Dana Carvey, who stopped what he was doing and walked back over to where I stood with Larry "Bubbles" Brown. "That's your name?"
"No way! That's my TM mantra!"
"Your what?"
"My mantra for transcendental meditation. When I meditate, you know how some people say OM to clear their mind. I say Ing. IIIIIIING. IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING."
"Aaaah. Well obviously that's not going to work for you any more. Now every time you meditate, you're gonna see my face."

Yeah, that was a good night. This job definitely has its perks.

So why did I tell you this story? Because I wanted to remind you that for the past 8 years, the organization I work for has been working hard to bring incredible performances to the Cascade Theatre (plus we make some pretty awesome radio). Also, I just plain ran out of time this week and didn't have time to come up with anything else. Why? Because it's fund drive time.

Right now Jefferson Pubic Radio is asking our listeners to put their money where their ears are. To think about the value of having a public radio station, how often they listen and the benefits they receive from having a public radio station in their life and in their community. Then we ask our listeners to take some action, and either pick up the phone or go online and make a commitment to help support the radio station financially with whatever kind of contribution they are able to make.

Now perhaps you haven't become a member because you're not listening to JPR. Today I'd like to help change that. I'd like to guide you to our station and help you listen to our programming. And if you like what you hear, I hope you'll decide to throw a little cash our way, and be a part of making public radio happen in your community. Because this little public radio station (really, we started out in a broom closet, no lie) has done some incredible things with the support of its listeners and its communities, like restoring an old, dilapidated theatre that has become the jewel of this fine city.

Today, instead of streaming a playlist, I'm sharing with you the streaming services of JPR. All 3 of them. If you like Americana contemporary singer/songwriter music, jazz, reggae, world, bluegrass and folk, then try the Rhythm & News Service. If Classical is your thing (or if you're just going down for a nap or studying for finals) then try the Classics & News Service. News Junkies? The News & Information Service of JPR should satiate your needs. Just click on the links below the boxes that correlate to the service you'd like to try out. And if you're mobile, try our iPhone app below. If you like what you hear, maybe you'll give us a call this week at 1-888-552-6191 and become a member of JPR. You can also donate right at our website. And hey....thanks.
iTunes / MP3

iPhone Application:
With JPR's free downloadable iPhone application, JPR fans can stream any of JPR's three program services at the quick touch of a button on an iPhone or iPod Touch. It's quick to connect, simple to use, and allows you to take JPR with you wherever you go.

To download the app, visit the App Store on iTuneshere.