Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Support this open mic night

Ken Kennedy, a North Penn alum and the other half of my acoustic duo, Raspberry Tea, is introducing an open mic night at the Peppercorn Pub on Route 309 south in Coopersburg from 9 to midnight Jan. 14. IT WAS ORIGINALLY GOING TO BE JAN. 7, BUT ILLNESS HAS POSTPONED IT.
Musicians, singers, spoken word artists, etc. are welcome to showcase their talents (and bring some friends) to the "Cousins Grimm Open Mic."
If you have an original song to try out on an audience, the time is now. If you've learned a song, please share it. The sound equipment and microphones should all be there, and all you need is your instrument.
And don't be surprised if Ken and his cousin, Rick, join in. Ken is fun to jam with!
Here's a link to Ken's MySpace:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Befriending an unsung icon

Earlier this month, my son and I caught one of the jazz cabarets at Allentown Symphony Hall. Bob Dorough has been making records since 1956, and he's the only vocalist that Miles Davis ever recorded with!

Dorough, who is now 82 years young, has a distinguished career, yet he is best known as the musical supervisor for ABC-TV's "Schoolhouse Rock."
If you grew up with "Schoolhouse Rock" like I did, you'd recognize the guy's voice right away.

I had the chance to talk to him before they opened the doors of the third floor Rodale Room (and served lasagna along with a cash bar). What a super nice guy he is!
Besides performing "Schoolhouse Rock" classics that he wrote, like "Three is a Magic Number," "Conjunction Junction" and "Figure Eight" with his trio, he also did a memorable version of the Gershwin Brothers-penned song "But Not for Me" and a terrific anti-Christmas song he wrote and recorded with Miles Davis (who Dorough referred to affectionately as "The Prince of Darkness") in 1962 called "Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)."
Perhaps the highlight of the evening was during the intermission when kiddo and I were talking with Dorough's guitarist. Steve was playing this cutsom built, electrified, acoustic guitar that was made by a friend of his in Philly who died from leukemia at age 44. When Jr. was talking to Steve about his ongoing jazz saxophone instruction, Dorough walked up, gestured toward Jr., and said, "This guy's a musician." Dorough and his guitar player raved about the Celebration Of The Arts (COTA) that's held annually in Delaware Water Gap, Pa., and were telling us we ought to move there because of what great music education they have in that community!
Also, if you're getting tired of the same old Christmas music on the radio, 88.5-FM WXPN has a breath of fresh air coming Christmas Day. Their syndicated "World Cafe" program will feature an interview with Sting from noon to 2, featuring tracks from his new holiday album "If on a Winter’s Night..." Sting will talk about where he drew inspiration for the album, what the holidays were like for him as a child and today, and why he feels the season is a mix of light and darkness emotionally. Sting will be coming to the area in January to perform with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Later on Christmas Day, "World Cafe" will air a special Christmas show featuring Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Aqua Teen Hunger Force (!) from 2 to 4 p.m.
The radio station's impeccable Year in Review is on tap for next week. The listener-selected best-of will feature the top 10 favorite CDs and top 100 songs of 2009, with the albums airing 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 28-31, and the songs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 1 and 4.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christy Christmas!

Since the subject of the first official post to Talk about the Passion was Christy Jefferson, there's a risk that I'm coming across as a stalker...

Last Christmas, Christy Jefferson was at a standstill making her soon-to-be released album "Agree to Disagree." And money was tight. Since nothing counteracts the winter blues like endorphins from nostalgic holiday tunes (ha ha), she recorded a few Christmas songs in her home studio in Doylestown to give as a gift to family and friends.
The five-song CD, "Merry Christmas with Love," grew to 11 songs -- 10 traditional numbers and an original about her family, "Memories We Build On, Year to Year."
C.J. opted for an eco-friendly sleeve made of recycled cardboard and skipped the shrink wrap.
In order to cover costs, Christy quietly sold the CD last November and December in markets far from family and friends, and pulled off what she described as 'a complete surprise' on Christmas morning.
“Making this CD was the perfect way to turn an unhappy situation around. I hope other people hear this story and are inspired to use their creativity and innovation to get through tough spots this holiday season and throughout the year ahead. The worst of times can be turned into the best of times with a little imagination and teamwork!,” she said.
Oh yeah, and she did get around to finishing the album that she had been working on in the first place. A CD release party for "Agree to Disagree" starts at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 26 at Puck on Printers Alley in downtown Doylestown. Cover is $5.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rhymes with stink-stank-stunk

Regional punk rockers Clashing Plaid have re-issued their single "All I Got for Christmas was Drunk" along with a cover of Chuck Berry's "Run Run Rudolph" and the new tune "Penny Collection." Hear these live during a show Friday night Dec. 11 at Traxx, 102 Bethlehem Pike, Colmar.
Holiday music tends to get on my nerves because it's so invasive for about a month and then disappears for 11 months. But ever since Clashing Plaid put out "Drunk" a few years ago, I must say, it's a keeper. I still have their one CD that has "Drunk" and the well-done originals "Emotional Wreck" and "Ghosts on Main Street."
"Drunk" is available as a free download from and "Penny Collection" is on iTunes and CDBaby.