Posts Tagged ‘Singer’



[Picture of Peter Silberman of The Antlers]Peter Silberman plays a Fender Mustang and has one of the best falsettos in the business. He formed “The Antlers” — and I have their album “Hospice“.  It is Brooklyn, and New York City in mood and lo-fi approach, but it is more straight, clearer and on focus. They opened for “The National” in Barcelona — now that would have been some gig!

I have been listening to this album on and off now for quite a while, but recently a chap I work with has discovered it — which has led to my returning to it again.

My favourite is “Epilogue”, simple guitar strumming (G major) — but a voice like Gregory Hoskins or Jeff Buckley.

“Hospice” is an incredibly emotional record. This guy really seems to pour out his heart and his art.  One for the headphones.

Here’re the usual links:

Peter did a blog that is intended to compliment the album:

[Embedded videoclip: Epilogue by The Antlers on YouTube]


In a nightmare, I am falling from the ceiling into bed beside you. You’re asleep, I’m screaming, shoving you to try to wake you up. And like before, you’ve got no interest in the life you live when you’re awake. Your dreams still follow story-lines, like fictions you would make.

So I lie down against your back, until we’re both back in the hospital. But now it’s not a cancer ward, we’re sleeping in the morgue. Men and women in blue and white, they are singing all around you, with heavy shovels holding earth. You’re being buried to your neck. In that hospital bed, being buried quite alive now. I’m trying to dig you out but all you want is to be buried there together.

You’re screaming, and cursing, and angry, and hurting me, and then smiling, and crying, apologizing.

I’ve woken up, I’m in our bed, but there’s no breathing body there beside me. Someone must have taken you while I was stuck asleep. But I know better as my eyes adjust. You’ve been gone for quite awhile now, and I don’t work there in the hospital (they had to let me go.)

When I try to move my arms sometimes, they weigh too much to lift. I think you buried me awake (my one and only parting gift.) But you return to me at night, just when I think I may have fallen asleep. Your face is up against mine, and I’m too terrified to speak.
–Epilogue or Sylvia Alive In Nightmares

Absolutely beautiful music.  Painful at times, but worth it. Enjoy.




[Picture of Danielle de Niese]I have been really busy lately; not merely the usual flat-out binge of a deadline killer, but also because I am moving office premises again!

As I love Opera, so I made time to watch the BBC Four Opera Season, starting with Tony Pappano’s “Opera Italia” on Monday night. Two things made me sit up and take note.

First was that Stephen Fry’s Wagner programme was next up in the BBC Four Season. Back in August I was following Mr Fry on Twitter as he made this programme, so it was nice to finally get to see it. Fry’s tweets in this regard encouraged me to post on RICHARD WAGNER on this very site.

Secondly, Tony Pappano’s programme had a singer that caught me on a lovely bit of Handel.  Now I have always been a sucker for Baroque and Handel, but this woman had a great voice.  Really good, with a distinctive warmth and rich quality.

I looked up and was surprised to see a good-looking lass called Danielle de Niese. So immediately I became a fan — of course; what’s not to like?  It’s all there — the whole package.  She’s young enough to be around for some time, so I can relax a bit knowing the future’s in good hands!  She kind-of reminded me, looks-wise, like our own Nicola Benedetti (even though Nicola is Scottish/Italian)!

[Embedded Video clip of “Lascia ch’io pianga” from Handel’s “Rinaldofrom YouTube]

Anyway, she was on again tonight — a programme called “Diva Diaries” — and it was superb; lots of insights into that world, and into Danielle’s personality as well.

I immediately checked her out on-line: she’s got a MySpace page (, and official website (, she’s on Wikipedia (, and she tweets on twitter (

[Embedded Video clip from YouTube]

Please go check her out. She’s what opera’s all about these days — youthful, good-looking, mixed race and truly global. Part Sri Lankan, Ms. de Niese was raised in Australia before moving to the United States of America.

Please also check out the BBC television season on Opera — Antonio Pappano was the youngest conductor to lead the orchestra of the Royal Opera House in London — where he is now the Musical Director. Monday night for a few more weeks, and I’ll bet there are more new finds to come.  Ooo, bring it on!




[Picture of a Chet Baker Record cover]What a voice!  I was in the mood for some Gregory Hoskins (after I spotted a comment here), and this put me in mind of the great Chet Baker.

He was originally famed for playing Jazz Trumpet — with some of the all time greats too.  Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan in particular.

In 1953, he released an album in which he sang, sparkily named “Chet Baker Sings” — and I got a hold of it in 1979 in one of those deals where you buy a bunch of LPs at a market.  This record has been part of me ever since.

In case you don’t know, this guy was from the golden age of Jazz — the post war cool era.

Although Chet used heroin for 30 years, he nearly made it to 60. He dozed off while sitting on a window-ledge on his 2nd storey Amsterdam hotel room one night in May 1988. He fell to his accidental death. I remember being very sad (I think I was still trying to come to terms with Jaco Pastorius’s murder 9 months before).  Sad times for jazz lovers.

There is a special connection here in that, like Jaco, Chet got in a late night brawl and took a severe beating.  But unlike Jaco, Chet didn’t die from the assault — but the beating made a mess of his lips and broke his teeth. This was in San Francisco in the mid 1960s — at the height of his looks and career. For a famous trumpet-player, that was about the worst possible outcome, ruining his embouchure — and so Chet had to wear dentures and stop playing the trumpet — he switched to flugelhorn and easy-listening music — until he developed a new embouchure over a few years.

That’s all pretty sickening, but I am glad to state that with his new embouchure, Chet returned to straight-ahead jazz trumpet — which by then was more popular in Europe than the USA, so Chet moved to Europe and entered his most prolific creative and recording period from the late 1970s until his death. Chet had even been working with Elvis Costello and together they had a top 40 hit with “Shipbuilding”!

[embedded video from]

Yeah, the guy was co-ool — a real cultural icon from an era filled with cultural icons!

Aw, man, what a song “Almost Blue” is, so on-the-money, not a wasted word from Elvis Costello — and not a wasted note from Chet and the gang. Total art. He holds back the singing until about half-way — what genius!

[embedded video from “Almost Blue”]

Almost blue
Almost doing things we used to do
There’s a girl here and she’s almost you
Almost  all the things that you promised with your eyes I see in hers too
Now your eyes are red from crying
Almost blue
Flirting with this disaster became me
It named me as the fool who only aimed to be
Almost blue
Almost touching it will almost do
There’s a part of me that’s always true… always

Almost  all the things that you promised with your eyes I see in hers too
Now your eyes are red from crying
Almost blue

Almost you
Almost me
Almost blue

I read a lot of rot about guys like Chet Baker.  He was no good-looking model to start with. The thing is that young guys get old.  Only cultural icons like Jimmy Dean and Jaco Pastorius don’t get old — the ones that died young. I have recoiled many times when I have seen what age has done to my heroes and others from a previous era — Jeez, Ry Cooder was a shock, as was James Taylor, Hue and Cry and Adrian Belew. This is mainly because they were out of the limelight for a while — others, like the Rolling Stones or Status Quo don’t seem so bad — but they actually are! You soon get used to them being old, and it will come to Brad Pitt and all the rest of the icons of today.

I do not think Chet was “ravaged by heroin”; he lived most of his life using heroin, and I have seen other 59 year olds look the same or worse simply from smoking cigarettes or being outdoors in the sun and weather a lot.

Chet Baker had his own style of singing and playing, and that is a good thing.  I am fed up hearing criticisms about his playing and singing from folks who can do neither themselves.

He was the whole package of cool when he was a young blade, doing “Funny Valentine”, “The Thrill is Gone”,  “I Fall in Love Too Easily”, and the marvellous, “Let’s get Lost”. When he got older, he was the elder statesman and the consummate musician. He was doing it for the music and the die-hard fans.  He could have chosen to do a million other things, but he stuck to his guns in a land far from his native land.

Personally I do not think we would have the likes of Gregory Hoskins or Jeff Buckley without Chet Baker’s voice — and that lives forever. Yes sir!




[Picture of Gregory Hoskins playing guitar]Whenever I hear Gregory Hoskins’sNever a Stranger Kiss” I relax, sure in the knowledge that talent and creativity are not dead, that TV reality show singing competitions have not killed every other outlet and opportunity.

embedded video:

Sit back and just let Gregory Hoskins open his soul to you.  It’s superb — gripping, chilling — and the rest. The guy can sing and hit the spot too. Hit “Play”, do it!

Maaan, I can seriously sympathise with him in that I have years of unfinished and unpolished songs, tunes and arrangement ideas.  The bridge is always a fuss if it doesn’t just come along with the birth. Then again, I have some that need choruses, intros and more verses! Oy!  I think he’s worked it out beautifully on this one, don’t you?

I like the vibe he sets up — I have enjoyed a lot of salsa, mambo,  guaguancó, rumba, punto, and son for quite a few years, probably as a result of studying Al di Meola’s stuff way back in the 1970s! LOL! Later, I got “into” Bal-Musette and even electric/ modern tango, like The Gotan Project.  I really like that he gives his song some of that flavour; it adds a lot, it evokes that whole decadent insalubriousness mood!

You can buy his album, “The Beggar Heart” from right now for buttons. Greg is the best thing out of Canada for years! This is one chap I would definitely go to see live should he ever tour the northern wastes of the UK!

As I may just have whet an appetite, I had better do my web-duty and provide some links! The first one is obvious:, then this is a nice link:

Finally, the record company — the fabulous Candyrat Records (what would the world be like without them?). Enjoy!




[Picture of Maggie Reilly of Cado Belle]In the mid 1970s, I had a girlfriend who bought me the self-titled Cado Belle album. She was in a bit of a scene, I think her brother was pals with their sax player, Colin Tully or something.

We used to bump into various members of Cado Belle all the time — for example, I can remember one time we went to a new place called “The Hot House” to see Kim Beacon and grab something to eat.  Colin played the sax, and Alan Darby was blinding on guitar.  I always liked Alan’s playing, especially the solo on “Nightbird” from “Ravenna”. It was a blinder of a gig — the venue was great, the food was superb, and the gig was wonderful and probably one of my all-time-faves as it happens.

Anyway, I got to know that Cado Belle album very well over the years, and Maggie Reilly really is very unappreciated in my opinion.  What a great singer, and what good songs too.  Maybe a bit dated now, but nevertheless, they are intelligent and wry: none of the lowest common denominator here.  Full on lyrics, key changes, tempo changes, cute bridges, intros, fade-outs, harmonies, lush arrangements. A tour de force of an album.

What is it with Glasgow that they never celebrate talent?  Maggie would definitely get a star on Glasgow Walk of Fame. Definitely. Hey, maybe we ought to start a campaign for Sauchiehall Street!

Alan Darby and Colin Tully went on, if memory serves me well, to write and play the soundtrack for  the movie, “Gregory’s Girl”.  That must have made them a few bob so that’s something at least.

[Edit: 2010-01-14:

[embedded video from]





This is so strange, but earlier this year, May or early June I think, we flagged a black cab on Clyde street.  I can’t remember where we were going or anything, but I do remember that the cabbie was all in black.  We got chatting — as y’do — it’s always the same in taxis, isn’t it? Anyway, the chap had noticed the guitar cases and said that he’d just been to a funeral.  I think he said it was his sister’s brother or something like that. He said that his deceased relative was a musician, but he didn’t think we’d have heard of him.

He said he was big in the ’states, but almost unknown back home here in Glasgow.  I said

“Try me”

Jimmy Dewar” he said, turning the cab past the Clutha Vaults.

“Oh yes, the singer and bassist with Robin Trower?”

“Eh? You’ve heard of him then?”

“Oh aye, he had a BRILLIANT voice, bit like Paul Rogers — you know ‘Free’?, dark chocolate or whisky and cigarettes.  Oh what a shame! I didn’t know he’d died.”

“Aye, that’s him”

“Jings, he couldn’t have been that old, what was it he died of?”

“Complications after surgery I think, and naw, he wasn’t that old, you’re right enough”

“Aw, man, the more I think about it, the more gutted I am; you’d have thought the papers or telly or somthing would have made more of a bit deal.  Jeez!”

“It was a right celebrity funeral though”

“Oh was it?”

“Oh aye, stars galore!  And that wee tramp Lulu was there as well”

“Eh? Lulu? A tramp? You have to be kiddin’!”

“Whit? Where have you been hidin’ ?  You must be the only person in Glasgow who’s not shagged her, or at least the only person in Glasgow that’s not heard about it.  She’s well known for being like that.”

“Bloody hell, what a life-changing taxi ride this is” I said as he pulled up to a halt.

I handed over the money shown on the meter plus the usual pound on top of the “keep the change” tip, and he drove off.

Who knew?  Lulu was “a raver”, and Jimmy Dewar had died.  I mentioned this to some folks, and yes, it seemed that everyone in the town knew what Lulu was like — although not many even knew who Jimmy Dewar was. But he old timers remembered Jimmy from the strange “Burns Howff” era of Glasgow musical history — Maggie Bell, Alex Harvey, Simple Minds, Stone the Crows, and Frankie Miller.

I guess it was a scene of sorts. I was too young for that scene, and I am not really into that kind of music, but I do feel that it is a shame that we don’t recognise these people better.

I DID like Robin Trower, and I really did like Jimmy’s vocals and bass lines… goodness it got me through school, and I definitely would have bought a ticket had they gigged (so many old timers are still gigging), so it is a personal loss of sorts.

For a long time I played in a trio — and so I have always been attentive to successful trios, and The Police, Cream, Hendrix and Trower are all up there as shining examples to follow.

One chap in a bar we played in over in Woodlands tonight (during one of our Sunday sessions with Chic Henderson) said that he was pretty sure Jimmy Dewar started off his career as Lulu’s bass player.  I was relieved to hear this; it meant that it was possible that the link between Lulu and the great Jimmy Dewar could be JUST musical/ professional!