Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Video - Tall Tall Trees

Tall Tall Trees

I was introduced to the looping pedal in the same broke down college rent district living room where I learned to play my first "A" chord. That lesson went something like, "Here, press down all the strings on the second fret and strum. See, you can play guitar." The subsequent jam sessions revolved heavily around the A major chord and months later had expanded to G major, then to D major, and then we were a band. Like my guitar playing, this ensemble's adaptations of the looping pedal adhered to our stringent standard of "close enough" and we weren't bashful about looping anything. The pedal, operated by our complex lead guitar player Steve, had the tendency to go wildly awry, often taking center stage half way into a song with sonic hysteria that made the cat leave the room and everyone else to ask Steve if he was alright. We owe many cigarette breaks to Steve's looping pedal.

These impressions of making music as a group left me mystified and filled with wonder. I entrenched myself with rock and roll, but gave looping pedals a wide berth. Some took to it wholeheartedly however and I am a willing admirer when I see a band punch a neat riff into a live performance with a loop...and I'm downright in awe when I see a performer who makes looping the entire act.

Tall Tall Trees is that performer. This gentleman could contend for the heavy weight title of interesting and unique things to do with a looping pedal. Tall Tall Trees, aka Mike Savino is a NYC banjo player who loops up just about every percussive or pluckable sound that can be conceived with a banjo and sums it into smart folk pop. This video from his fund raiser campaign is the perfect example, and the good news is that the project is funded! So watch with impunity. -- @carrboroninja

Monday, January 13, 2014

Leyla McCalla: Heart of Gold

Eureka, a genuine and impassioned performance. This is the kind of video which stops you in your tracks, slows down the spinning of the day and takes control of your attention for a few minutes. This is Leyla McCalla, most recently known as the cellist for Carolina Chocolate Drops, a group that consistently produces elegant solo spin-offs. "Heart of Gold" is just one of the Langston Huges poems which Leyla delicately arranges to original music on her upcoming album Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes. Click play and enjoy!  -- @carrboroninja

vertical Leyla McCalla performs in Durham, NC at The Pinhook on Tuesday Feb 4th. Punkgrass specialists Grace and Tony open. See the event details here: http://www.thepinhook.com/event/457121-leyla-mccalla-durham/