A Saturday Music Midnight Special — Meg Mac performing “Roll up Your Sleeves” and Lucinda Williams performing “Protection”

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.


Sunday Early Morning Music — Ryley Walker performing “Primrose Green”

Designated the March Artist to Watch by WXPN in Philadelphia, Ryley Walker is a guitar virtuoso and folk/singer-songwriter out of Chicago.  His first CD, which was released last year, was the well-received All Kinds of You.  His talent is extraordinary and his musical interests span traditional folk, Celtic, jazz-folk, British late ’60s era folk-rock, country blues, and psychedelica.  His new full-length CD is entitled Primrose Green.  The title song is what follows and it is very reminiscent of Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, and Donovan.


Sunday Music Interlude — Leon Bridges performing “Coming Home” Live

Hailing from Fort Worth Texas, Leon Bridges has broken onto the music scene with a handful of essential-when-you-hear-them soul and R&B.  His voice is reminiscent–both smooth and deep–as “Dock of the Bay”-era Otis Redding and “Chain Gang”-era Sam Cooke.  He made the WXPN The Key’s February 9th edition “Gotta Hear Song of the Week.”  In looking up his bio he is a mystery.  He has a website, Soundcloud, and Facebook page.  Obviously he feels content to speak through his music, which is extraordinary.

Here he is performing live at Little Rock’s White Water Tavern.

Holiday Music Interlude — Trigger Hippy performing “Who Will Wear The Crown”

Trigger Hippy is the roots supergroup out of Nashville. Coming out of the AmericanaFest they were crowned as the Best Supergroup by Rolling Stone in their “20 Best Things We Saw at AmericanaFest”.  The group is made up of singers Jackie Greene and Joan Osborne, Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman, bassist Nick Govrik, and guitarist Tom Bukovac.  Most supergroup efforts are hit-or-miss affairs, especially given the conflicting egos and visions of musicians otherwise used to performing with an established set of bandmates or acting as a leader in their own right.  This is not the case here.  These talented individuals have a common feel and passion for the music and it can be heard in their playing.  Their album was just released this past September and has earned raves from critics.  Their musical influences are from the blues, rhythm & blues, soul, folk, and country-rock.  Here they are performing at the XPoNential Music Festival 2014 this past September in Camden, NJ.  WXPN, which is the sponsor of XPoNential is the public radio station of the University of Pennsylvania.  They can be found at XPN.org, and for those who haven’t given them a listen.  If you do I think you will agree that they are also one of the best radio stations in the country.