It’s getting into early Sunday morning here on the east coast. I’ve been listening to a number of recently released music from both new artists and old favorites and, given both the hour and variety, I began thinking about the old Midnight Special television show. The talent that appeared on that show was incredible both for the breadth of artists that appeared and the fact the performances were live, at least until near the end. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have an equivalent today.
While in today’s new media environment instant gratification is achieved through music downloads and music videos, there is a significant missing component to these largely self-reinforcing navel-gazing technologies: the absence of the sense of community that we used to experience through the shared event. While some may dismiss this observation as being a typical “old guy” perspective in critiquing new-fangled technology, I think it best to pause. As a geek I have been enamored with new technology and media through all of its iterations–and use them now, hence this blog and the 200+ apps on my smartphone. I had high hopes during the early days of “I Want My MTV” that the synthesis of visualized media with music would free the artist to communicate in new ways–and some have pushed the envelope in that direction. Largely, though, it comes down to people trying to look cool in front of the camera, and more than a few pretty people with marginal talent (at best) scooping up a good portion of the rare money that is available on which to make a living through music. Largely for my own enjoyment and for those of you who have the patience to subscribe to this blog, I’m providing just a little variety in covering two artists: a newcomer in the form of Meg Mac and the musical legend that is Lucinda Williams.
According to Billboard, Meg Mac is the nom de plume of Megan McInerney. She hails from Melbourne, Australia, and began getting attention from the triple j unearthed site in 2013. There she uploaded some songs including the video “Every Lie”, which can be viewed at the same link, and won their Falls Festival competition. Her early songs show a powerful voice with a neo-soul demeanor in the vein in Adele and Amy Winehouse. She has a website that provides some additional details of her musical influences, as well as her past and current projects. She was identified as the New Artist to Watch for June 2015 by WXPN. She released an EP self-titled Meg Mac, and is in the process of putting together her first album. The following live performance on 89.3 The Current has her performing “Roll Up Your Sleeves.”
At the other end of the spectrum we have Lucinda Williams. I first came across her unique voice through an album of original songs that I picked up from the Smithsonian Institution store during a visit to D.C. back in the early ’80s entitled Happy Woman Blues. This was actually her second release and I was so taken by her original vision, voice, and authenticity that I quickly sought out her debut album, which consisted of covers of traditional folk and blues songs that she seemed to make her own through the timbre of her voice and her emotional connection to the songs communicated in a manner that I had never heard before: Ramblin’ On My Mind. She has had many successes since that time with breakthrough albums that are an essential part of the American songbook. Late last year she released her first double album: Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone. Her voice is now a bit worn, raw, and weary-sounding–reminding me of the same metamorphosis that happened to Billy Holiday’s by the time she released Lady in Satin in 1958. Here she is performing “Protection” for KEXP.