December 27, 2007...
It's tempting to close out the year with a Best of the Music show for Tapestry. We did it last year...and the year before. But truth is, we can't pick just a few and say they're the "best" or even "our favorites". The cool thing about a tapestry is that you often discover that the color or pattern that first caught your eye actually leads you to something way more interesting. We hope this program is like that for you - that you may hear a local band playing a type of music you never knew you liked, but find out that you do! So, here's a "retrospective" of Tapestry music from 2007. Not "the best", or even "our favorites" ... but rather, a Tapestry.
When 2007 began, many folks were still mourning the death of one of Alabama's "River Heroes". Shane Hulsey was a tireless environmental activist and outdoor enthusiast who died in a kayaking accident on the river he loved. His friends kicked off the year by organizing a benefit music festival that featured, among others, Birmingham band Sunny So Brite. From their new CD, this is the tune "Brave New Boy". Sunny So Brite's Mark Carmichael and J.M. Cifonie dropped by our studios.
Mitchell McElroy ends a letter to his MySpace fans with 'believe in the love'. That's the message of his band, Mile Marker 7: it's music with a positive theme, with a spiritual lift. Mitchell and his brother Jordan joined us in-studio to talk about what drove them, their other brother Sean and a couple of new additions to Mile Marker 7 and what they believe is their calling. From their self-titled live CD, this is 'Crying Out.'
Like so many other southern musicians, James "PJ" Spraggins II's love for music started in the church, but it didn't take him down a vocal path. Instead, the Bessemer native zeroed in on the drums. He played in the marching, pep and jazz bands at Alabama State University and then played with other musicians before issuing his debut jazz album "The Light of Day" earlier this year. This is "Sweet Nita" off the CD.
It's easy to see why Marlon Spears has gained so much attention - opening for Clarence Carter and Michael McDonald and performing with the Lincoln Center Jazz Ensemble in New York. He mastered the saxophone as a teenager, basically taught himself the piano a few years later, and eventually graduated Summa Cum Laude in Music Technology at UAB. All that - despite being blind. Actually - not "despite" - because Spears says being blind has actually helped his music. This is "Ridin", the title cut to his Cd that came out this spring.
With a talent that's thrust him onstage with notables such as Bob Hope, Birmingham musician Dan Gilliland isn't just whistling Dixie, he's whistling all around Dixie - and other places as well. And he's singing and performing a busy concert schedule - all part of a musical journey that dates back to his parent's old phonograph.
The term 'Red Light District' conjures up a couple of images: Amsterdam, maybe New Orleans. But Birmingham is home base for the hip-hop and R&B sound of the group Red Light District. Like their name, their music is a little raw...but members say they focus more on illumination - "creative energy" as they call it. Ten years ago, the group released its debut CD "Welcome to the Red Light, Volume 1". In 2007 they came back with Volume 2. Founder and singer Patrick Johns -- a.k.a. S. Fly, reflects on the first album and the state of hip-hop in Birmingham.
There's a band from Cullman called Chalk. An unusual name, for sure, especially when you consider the full name of the band: "Creatures Harboring Ancient Limitless Knowledge". Not exactly what you'd expect from a heavy metal band! This is their song "Oceanic Oversoul" from the CD with the same name.
Growing up in rural St. Clair County - where, in his house, radios were few -- Monroe Golden imagined a life of farming -- certainly not making music. But music is his passion and so is technology and he's found a way to combine the two. When he's not working as a computer programmer for AT&T, he's composing and performing microtonal music... a style that divvies up normal notes in ways that are unconventional. From Golden's CD "Alabama Places", this is Scarham Creek.
Chris Porter and The Stolen Roses say they make "real music" for "real people"...but what exactly does that mean? Porter and his band have been rocking Birmingham for a while now - and released a new CD midway through the year. From that CD - this is Abigail.
Having a CD recorded at Sun Studios is akin to finding the musical Holy Grail. It's the place of Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and - of course, it's most famous star - Elvis, first recorded. And now - add Kendra Sutton's name to that list. The Birmingham honky tonk soul singer Kendra Sutton and her band, The Bad Luck Boys, recorded their latest CD, "The Sun Sessions" in Memphis. This is "Love You Still."
That does it for Tapestry this week. We wish you the happiest of holidays and a life filled with music. For Tanya Ott, Michael Krall, Hunter Bell, Steve Chiotakis, Andrew Yeager and all the freelancers and volunteers who bring you Tapestry each week - I'm Greg Bass. See you in '08!