Category Archives: music

Cupcakes and Ukuleles

As a musician, how important is keeping up with new technologies? New technologies are affecting music performance, production and recording as much as any other field (social media, telecommunications, advertising).

Like waves reshaping a beachfront, trends reshape society, change habits and inspire new creations. Ignore the trends and you shun a big part of life. The trick is to embrace change and at the same time preserve your own voice, your own stylistic approach to creativity.

Some technologies, like auto-tune, are a shortcut, helping some musicians hide a lack of talent (like the inability to sing certain notes). Others, like various guitar pedals (volume pedals to create swells, for example) provide extra palates for the artist on which to extend his stylistic voice.

It’s fun to hear low tech trends, though, like the ukulele craze that’s developed over the past couple of years. Train’s “Hey Soul Sister” undoubtedly helped spark the craze. Walk into any music store these days and you’ll see a wall full of ukuleles of various shapes and sizes. To most players, it’s a different and new instrument where they have to study and invest time and energy. There are few shortcuts to learning a completely new instrument. It’s a refreshing trend surfacing above the barrage of technology.

Like cupcakes (you gotta love all the different flavors and sizes), ukuleles represent the latest happening thing. Embrace and enjoy!

A Cropped Style

Among electric guitar stylists, there are few that occupy a time and place and still live on. Steve Cropper made his imprint using his smart “cropped” style back in the 60’s with Booker T and MG’s. He never blew me away (or anyone probably) with a flashy technique, speed or pyrotechnics. But he did blow people away with his style. It was a tightly wound, biting approach to lead playing that contrasted perfectly with Booker T’s smooth Hammond B-3 playing and the funky backdrop of locked bass and drums.

Steve Cropper helped to define the Memphis sound that helped to shape rhythm and blues, rock, pop and so much more. I recently discovered Cropper’s latest CD, “Dedicated.” (Billed as a tribute to the 5 Royales.) All of Cropper’s bite and tasteful note selection from the 60″s live on in this new recording, and it’s a great example of a stylist with a simple but impressionable approach stuffed with soul and passion.