Tuesday, October 28, 2008

KC and The Sunshine Band 35 years and still going!!

Who would have thought that way back in 1973, that a funky little white boy who knew how to shake his booty would still be thrilling the crowds some 35 years later? I'm talking about none other than KC of KC and The Sunshine Band. The band is currently on tour and celebrating their 35th anniversary. Wow, it takes a special talent to be able to maintain a career for that long. I was fortunate enough to talk to KC by phone before their performance in High Point,NC on October 20.
I asked KC what the secret was to be going strong after 35 years. "There's no magic answer man, I guess it's because I just love what I'm doing. I have fun each and every night up there on stage. Even after all of these years," said KC. He is definitely a rare breed in celebrating his 35th anniversary this year. On a personal note, I told KC that he shared the same anniversary with my idols KISS.
"Yeah, today's industry is definitely different. What with the internet and downloading and all. It has some good points to it, but I miss the old days when you bought albums. You had a piece of art in your hands with the lyrics on the jacket sleeve and everything. Now, everything is just so tiny. Also, the internet definitely has made music less personable. You lose that touch when you go viral," KC responded when asked about how the industry has changed.
His music, to me, seems to transcend time and it takes you back to a place when you hear it. Each song seems to provoke memories when you hear them again. I told of my 8th grade dance waiting for the dj to play "Please Don't Go" so that I could ask this girl in my class, with whom I had a mad crush on, to dance. By the way, he played the song and I did get that dance and a kiss. That's what I love about music; how it can evoke such strong emotions and memories when you hear a particular song.
My last question was the one that I always ask anyone that i interview. If you were on a desert island with only one cd, which one would you want it to be? "Wow, that's really a tough question. I really don't know. Wait, I'd probably have my Ipod, but I guess if i had to pick just one, it would be our greatest hits cd," said KC.
Our phone conversation was short and to the point, but he really is a funny guy. So, our next stop was to High Point,NC to his show. He had a 14 band that night and the energy was non-stop. He had 4 dancers and KC did alot of dancing himself. he had almost as many costume changes as Cher or Diana Ross! After the first song he asked if there were any young people in the crowd and there were. He said that in case anyone was wondering, he was your mama's N-Sync. He said that he was what Justin Timberlake was going to look like in 30 years. The crowd just ate it up.
The band was really tight and his percussion section was amazing. His back-up dancers were constantly changing clothes and tearing up the stage with KC all night. He performed all of his hits including "Please Don't Go", "Boogie Shoes" and a surprise performance of "Yes I'm ready", which was originally a duet with Teri Desario.
The band also did several older r&b hits including "Brick House" by the Commodores, "Shake Your Body" by the Jacksons and "Lowrider" by War. It was a high energy show from beginning to end. You can definitely see why he has been going strong for 35 years. He is an awesome performer and musician. I had always heard how good of a show that he put on, but seeing is believing!
The problem with the music industry today is that there are less people like KC in it. Most of today's artists are here today, gone today. There is just no staying power. It seems as if you have to be the next "flavor of the week" to get airplay. KC is a rare breed. He is a singer, songwriter, producer, musician and singer. He wears many hats in an industry where most of today's music is cranked out and manufactured. The industry needs more people in it like KC, whether they shake their booties or not.

Monday, October 27, 2008

In This Moment concert

With today's ever changing music industry, it is hard for a new band to break out and get noticed. You have to stand out from the crowd and grab the peoples attention. That is just what In This Moment have done. The band was formed in 2005 by lead singer Maria Brink and lead guitarist Chris Howorth. They used MySpace as a marketing tool and posted rough demos on their page. The band started getting noticed and their friend count started to soar. Their debut release, "Beautiful Tragedy", was released in March of 2007.
The band toured extensively for anyone and everyone that they would let them join them on tour. All their hard work payed off when they got the attention of Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne. They asked the band to be on the annual Ozzfest tour in 2007. They won over fans and critics alike! They went on to open for Megadeth and for Ozzy on his arena tour. They really had momentum on their side as they began work on their sophomore release "The Dream." It was released in September of 2008. I had a chance ti sit down with Maria and Chris before their show in Danville,VA at Plan B and talk to them about it.
I asked them about the concept of the new CD. Maria said, "The CD started with the name the title. I knew I wanted to call it The Dream. I have always been a big fan of Alice in Wonderland and I wanted to keep the whole aspect of anything is possible in your dreams tied into it. Our CD booklet actually has caricature's of each member and they look like characters out of Alice. I believe that when you dream, you can accomplish anything. If we take that and apply it in real life, it is amazing what you can do. we cannot just limit what we can achieve to our dreams, you can make it a reality."
The band has a very strong and loyal fan base due in part to the closeness and actual contact that they maintain with their fans. I asked Chris if they marketed the new CD with that in mind. He said, "We decided on the pre order package to give something back to our amazing fans. I think it was a great idea! We had 3000 of the pre order packages made up. We also got together with Hot Topic, which does great with our merchandise, and we signed 5000 copies for the fans. The week it was released, they ran it on sale for $7.99." For those not in the know, the pre order package was available online and consisted of a t-shirt, the new cd, a guitar pick, an 8x10 photo of he group and a bonus CD that was available only through the pre order and it was personally autographed to the buyer. All of this for only $20!
The new CD does have a different sound from their first release. It is more melodic and Maria actually chose to display her amazing singing voice more than go for the "screamo" affect like on the first CD. She told me that screaming is actually alot easier for her to do than singing! The songwriting on the CD definitely has a more positive tone, keeping with the dream concept. One track that stood out to me the first time I heard the CD was a song entitled "Into The Light" and features Maria on piano and is a chilling ballad. I asked her about the story behind the song. "Well, it's about saying goodbye. It's about friends who have actually had to hold a parents hand as they passed away. We got a letter from the parents of a fan of ours named Zack. He was born with half a heart and his mother was holding his hand while he passed away. His favorite song of ours was "He Said Serenity" and he was listening to it when he passed away. We actually included a dedication to him in the booklet for the new CD," said Maria.
The band has many influences and it can be heard on the new CD. I was curious to find out what they listened to or what inspired them musically. "I have to admit it...I am a Michael Jackson "Thriller" fan. I then moved on into the whole metal scene with KISS and Metallica and Def Leppard. Those are most of mine," said Chris. Who are Maria's influences? "Well, I have so many of them. I love Billie Holiday! I also love Madonna. My favorite group is the Deftones, I would love to go out on tour with them. I also like weird electronic music like Shiny Toy Guns."
My last question that I asked is a favorite of mine in all interviews. Not only does it usually catch the artist off guard, I'm always curious as to their thinking and musical tastes. If you were stuck on a desert island with only one CD, it cannot be a mix CD, it has to be a store bought CD, what would it be? They both had to ponder for a moment before coming up with an answer. Chris' choice was Journey's "greatest Hits" and Maria's was U2 "The Joshua Tree". I actually have both of those and they are among my favorites.
On a personal note, Maria did remember my daughter Taylor and myself from last year's Ozzfest in Charlotte,NC that we attended. Taylor has asthma and it was very hot and humid at the show. She did not bring her inhaler and she started to have trouble breathing while standing in line to meet the band in the scorching hot sun. I though we were going to have to leave, but she wanted to try to rough it out. The security at the venue saw her having problems and nobody seemed to care. When we got up to meet Maria, Taylor went to take my picture and she was shaking. Maria told her that it was ok and that she didn't have to be nervous. I then explained about her asthma and Maria went and got her a bottled water and told her to held up the line a few minutes until she felt better. Maria has a son almost the same age as my daughter and she was the only one who showed compassion that day. Taylor still, to this day, has that empty water bottle. When Maria was looking at my pictures from Ozzfest, I started to tell her about what happened and she said that she knew we looked familiar and that she remembered that.
Taylor and I then exited the tourbus and went inside the venue to listen to the other bands. In This Moment did perform for about an hour. Maria is an amazing front person for the band. She is very charismatic on stage and the intensity that comes through in her performance is amazing. The band is very tight and they played a mix of songs from both Cd's. There were some technical difficulties throughout the show, but the band did not miss a beat. Even though it was a small club and there was a small turnout, they rocked it like it was Madison Square Garden! Taylor even got to sing twice with Maria that night. Afterwards, they hung around and signed autographs and posed for pictures. They asked fans what they thought about the show and listened to their responses. That's the great interaction that they have with their fans that is so amazing.
I do need to thank George Vallee at Century Media Records for the tickets and photo passes and for lining up the interview for me. I also have to thank Jenny, their tour manager, for being so nice to both Taylor and myself. I encourage all music fans to check them out on MySpace. They are a multi-faceted group that will be around for a long time. If you need more info, feel free to email me at jpdeuce73@yahoo.com.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I LOVE MUSIC!!!!!!!!!

Hey peeps,
This is my first blog on here so I started with something that everyone who knows me, knows about me: I LOVE MUSIC!!!!! I love all types. How can you not love music. Music can evoke all emotions. You think I'm wrong...ok then. How about breakup songs? We all got dumped and there is that one song that just gets you everytime. Every couple seems to have "our song" and that brings back lots of eomtions. How about when a song comes on the radio by that artist....you know the one...the one that is like nails on a chalkboard!!! Then, there are songs that conjure up naughty thoughts. Remember the song that you made out to in the backseat of your car after the football game in highschool? How about what was playing when you lost your virginity? Then there are summetime songs.....oh yeah!! The song that was blasting going down the boardwalk at the beach outta every car there.
Songs are like snapshots in time. They capture moments when you don't have a camera to do so. I have managed different recordstores before and I had to do the purchasing. therefore, I had to listen to everything to know what was hot. I love all types of music. Just depends on my mood as to what I listen to. I like everything from KISS to Barry manilow to the Dixie Chicks to Jay-Z to Beethoven.
Music is such a source of inspiration to me. It lifts me up when I am done. It makes me happy! It motivates me!!
I love it when I ask someone their favorite group and they say that they don't really listen to music......the gloves are then on!! How can you NOT listen to music? Even deaf people listen to music!!!
I also don't like people who pigeonhole themselves to one type of music. You have to be open to all things and all types of music. It's amazing what you are missing out on if you don't free your mind.
Well, what I am trying to say i sthat music makes the world go round. It makes it a better place. Just think how quiet it would be without music.

(the sound of crickets fill the room)