December 25, 2008...
A sampling of some of Birmingham's best musicians heard in 2008:
2007 was a banner year for the five piece rock band Moses Mayfield. They singed with a major label, toured nationally and their debut album was critically acclaimed. But, by this year the guitarist had quit and the band was on indefinite hiatus. Singer Matthew Mayfield continues playing solo and has a new collection of songs titled The Fire EP.
Jessica Rieke Heine has been involved in both music and ministry from an early age. She plays for church youth groups and coffee house crowds... and if you must use a label, call her style Christian-influenced alt-country. But she doesn't want her sound or approach to songwriting to be pigeon-holed. Elements of folk, Americana, gospel and rock guitar riffs all blend on her latest CD Finding a Fugitive. This is the song Shine.
Jessica Reike Heine's latest CD is called Finding a Fugitive.
Birmingham singer-songwriter Adam Wright grew up in a musical family. His dad played guitar and his mom was the church pianist. But for one track on his latest EP, Wright draws inspiration from another family member. This is the song Where You Will Always Be.
Adam Wright's new EP is called Broken is Good.
Break out a stew pot, add a lot of funk, put in generous portions of jazz, Brazilian rhythms, rock, hip-hop and some world beat for spice and you've got Birmingham band Feijoada. The five-member collective takes pride in live performance, following the traditions at the heart of funk and jazz music. Jon Poor and Will Cash sing and play guitar with Feijoada.
The song is When You Find It from Feijoada's self-titled CD.
The music of Birmingham indie-band 13ghosts moves freely from psychedelic to country-punk. But their CD, The Strangest Colored Lights, takes on a special flavor. The songs came from a session recorded shortly after the suicide of songwriter Brad Armstrong's cousin a decade ago.
The song is Bury Me by 13ghosts.
Their sound's is described as "soul with a punk attitude" -- so you might wonder what to expect from indie band The Strife Rifle. Lead singer and songwriter Paul Janeway has a vocal style obviously influenced by soul music. Add the fact that one of his favorite songwriters is Tom Waits, and that explains the "punk" part.
The song is Here Comes A Stranger from the Friendly Serpent EP.
With many old school hip-hop influences, you might be surprised to find that messages of positive consciousness abound in Shaheed Tawheed's brand of hip-hop. The beat is always the essential starting point - but for this Birmingham rapper, journal writing is what inspired him to start making music. With his new CD Health, Wealth and Knowledge of Self, he progresses in his quest for great beats mixed with an uplifting message.
The song is Come With Me by Shaheed.
The digital revolution is being downloaded, and local musician Donovan Gravlee is leading the charge. Gravlee - who goes by the name Cahaba - literally gives away his music online because, he says, the creative process is more important than selling songs. His roots are in metal, but he decided to go the one-man band route when he got tired of waiting for people to show up to practice. Cahaba's recent compilation mixes Jamaican dub, trip-hop and experimental electronic styles...but his sources are often down-to-earth "environmental" samples and acoustic instruments.
The song is Hang Time 3 AM by Cahaba...also known as Donovan Gravlee.
The Blue Galaxy String Project is game for just about anything, musically. As individuals they're accomplished in genres as diverse as classical, celtic, jazz and rock. But as the Blue Galaxy String Project, you might find them playing Beatles tunes at a wedding reception or Radiohead at a club gig. Here's their version of The Talking Heads' This Must Be the Place from their self-titled EP.
Tapestry is produced by Tanya Ott and Michael Krall. If you heard something you like, check out our webpage at WBHM.org for free downloads. I'm Greg Bass, and we'll see you next week.