The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Aspiring music stars will watch the Grammy Awards on Sunday night dreaming of someday being on that stage like Taylor Swift, Lil Wayne and Green Day.
If they are going to get there, at some point they have to stop off somewhere like Lexington’s St. Claire Recording Co. After all, the Grammy Awards are for recordings.
The lush location off Spurr Road is loaded with state-of-the art recording equipment and a studio with an array of options for guitar amplifier heads, drums and other equipment.
“Our policy is, if it is here, you can drag it out and play with it,” studio manager Rosco Weber says.
The rest of the building includes bedrooms, a kitchen and a break room for artists who come in from out of town.
And they come.
“I tell everyone to come here,” legendary producer Tony Visconti, whose many collaborations have included David Bowie, says before starting a day of work at St. Claire on Alejandro Escovedo’s next album. “You can’t get space in New York like this anymore.”
But before you call St. Claire or embark on a recording project anywhere, you have to get your act together.
“We’ll get these entertaining calls from people who say, ‘Hey, I have seven songs I want to mix and put out on 1,000 CDs next week,’ and that’s when we say, ‘Wait. Let’s back up,’” St. Claire owner John Parks says.
Recording has changed a lot in the 52 years that the Grammys have been given out. There was a time when putting out an album meant an act had reached a point in its career that it could afford to go into a studio and have a vinyl record pressed and packaged.
Now, anyone with a song, a microphone, a computer and a MySpace page can make a recording and distribute it worldwide. Still, in the 21st-century music world, having some sort of recording is important for any act trying to be heard.
“With (computer) programs like Garage Band and a good microphone, you can come up with a pretty good recording in your bedroom,” says Duane Lundy, owner of Shangrila Studios and a guitarist for the Lexington rock band Chico Fellini. “The recording process can be a great way to find yourself as an artist.”
Every once in a while, that home-brewed recording will catch someone’s ear.
Visconti cites a new artist from Wales, Debbie Clarke. Her talent came through on rough demos he heard online. He ended up producing an EP using Skype, an Internet phone service, to direct her vocals. The tracks will be available soon on iTunes.
But, Visconti says, for every act whose recording becomes a viral sensation, millions of others are never seen or heard beyond a small circle of friends.
Flyleaf is one of the most popular bands in Christian rock, but guitarist Sameer Bhattacharya doesn’t believe in Christian rock.
“We’re all Christians, and we all hold on to our faith very strongly,” he says. “Jesus didn’t come here for just Christians. He came here for the world, to show everyone that love is real and it’s not wrong to speak the truth, and if you speak the truth, you’re going to find it.
“To seclude yourself to a subculture, to seclude yourself to a bubble, I think is wrong. I don’t agree with the Christian industry. I’d like to see it end, really.”
Flyleaf will be performing well outside the bubble of Christian rock Monday night at Rupp Arena, when the Texas band opens for co-headliners Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace.
The group is touring in support of its second album, “Memento Mori,” the long-awaited and critically acclaimed follow-up to Flyleaf’s 2005 self-titled debut.
That debut introduced the world to the quintet’s heavy, Gothic sound and charismatic frontwoman Lacey Mosley. It turned heads in Christian rock, but the band also hit the road with mainstream acts like Korn, and it was under no pressure to create a follow-up to its first album.
“We know the joke that you have your whole life to write a first record and a few months to write the second,” Bhattacharya says. “But for us, that has not been true.”
While many labels will pressure an act to crank out a follow-up to a hit debut, Bhattacharya says, Octone Records encouraged them to take their time.
We aren’t too in the business of posting a video just because here at le blog, but this little collage of YouTube users’ takes on Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” face is just so cool. I’ve looked at it a dozen times picking out the parts, and it’s a great testament to how artists captivate their fans and can inspire the audience’s creativity. BTW, we have more Grammys stuff coming up in the Herald-Leader and at LexGo.com this weekend, and I will be tweeting during the show at 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS.
Transylvania University’s Morlan Gallery presents “MYKY – Life Through the Lens,” an exhibit of Kentucky images by five Bluegrass State photographers: Don Ament, Angela Baldridge, Frank Döring, Mary Tortorici and Carla Winn. Click play, above, to get a preview of the exhibit narrated by Morlan Gallery director Andrea Fisher. Click here to read our preview of the show. The exhibit continues through Feb. 12.
LexArts has named Tania Blanich its new chief operating officer. Blanich comes to Lexington’s arts umbrella organization with extensive experience in media, serving as director of the Program for Media Artists, which supports film and new media projects, and associate director of National Video Resources, a New York-based foundation that helps disseminate independent media.
LexArts president and CEO Jim Clark said in a news release that developing media initiatives for LexArts will be part of her job description. Her primary responsibilities will be overseeing LexArts’ financial and organization operations.
“It is truly exciting to join LexArts and work with Jim to devise programs and strategic partnerships that support and share the vibrancy of the Lexington arts community,” Blanich said in the release.
Blanich is a North Dakota native who earned her bachelors from the University of Michigan and masters from New York University. She has worked in not-for-profit management for more than 25 years.
University of Kentucky graduate and Metropolitan Opera tenor Gregory Turay will perform Thursday night in a concert to benefit the Rotary International’s Polio Plus program.
Turay, an artist-in-residence this year at the University of Kentucky, will perform the second half of a concert that will also feature multiple artists performing on a variety of instruments in a variety of styles including Bluegrass and gospel. It will be at 7 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 28) at Versailles Presbyterian Church, 130 N. Main St. There is no admission charge, but an offering will be taken to benefit Polio Plus, a program that seeks to eradicate Polio. Rotary is currently working to raise $200 million to match a $355 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Los Angeles was coming across as boring as Chicago and most other “American Idol” audition cities this year that didn’t have General Larry Platt singing “Pants on the Ground.”
Then, Tuesday night, toward the end of the L.A. episode, we saw what the show needed: More Katy Perry. To be more precise, more Katy Perry going womano-a-womano with Kara DioGuardi. In the last segment, we saw a montage of little dustups between the two, including DioGuardi mocking Perry’s hit “Hot and Cold” and Perry threatening to toss the product of a primary show sponsor in her face.
But the line of the night, really of the auditions thus far — aside from “Lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground” — was Perry’s response to DioGuardi’s evaluation of auditioner Chris Golightly. The curly-headed Californian definitely had a tough story, having gone through more than 25 foster homes as a child. And his version of “Stand by Me,” was poignant and well sung, with some flares of individuality.
DioGuardi started praising his voice, but then turned to his story, to which Perry quipped, “This isn’t a Lifetime movie, sweetheart.”
And she was absolutely right, drilling down to one of the things that is making the audition episodes such a slog. Yes, anytime you gather tens of thousands of people in arenas across the country, there are going to be some compelling stories in there. But now, “AI” might as well cue violins if they go out to an auditioner’s home to produce a featurette, because it will be some sob story that would make the judges look like heartless clods if they didn’t give the singer a golden ticket. And while there have been some compelling stories over the years, between Andrew Garcia and Jim Ranger Tuesday night, I was starting to wonder if fathering children was the sole qualification for a weepy feature.
Before Lexington Philharmonic music director Scott Terrell announced his 2010-11 season to the audience at Friday’s MasterClassics concert, he sat down to talk with me about it for the Herald-Leader and WEKU-FM 88.9.
Click here to listen to the report for WEKU, and the transcript of the radio version is below:
When the Lexington Philharmonic takes the stage for 2010-11, it will be a notably different season from previous years. New Philharmonic music director Scott Terrell has put together a program that in many ways breaks the mold of the LPO and other orchestras.
Terrell:“…the board is very much on board with the idea of the LPO reaching out a little more into the community, and the real goal for next year, I’m going to be really honest, is putting more people into the seats, to engage the public more, to reach out to constituency groups that have maybe never interacted with the Philharmonic.”
The 2010-11 schedule includes six Classics concerts, two premium concerts, three family concerts and a season opener that will be part of the Alltech-FEI World Equestrian Games programming. Terrell says that after partnering with Alltech for a Ronan Tynan concert last October, they wanted to work with the Philharmonic again during the games …
“… they agreed to bring Big Bad Voodoo Daddy here, which is a seven-to-nine member, I would call them hot swing. They’re probably one of the best groups you can get your hands on. They play at the Hollywood Bowl, and they’re the real McCoy.”
After getting the season off to a swinging start, the Classics Series will start Oct. 22 with a Romeo & Juliet-themed program. In addition to music from Wagner and Tchaikovsky, the concert will feature selections from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story with the chorus from Lexington’s Lafayette High School.
The Cats are not the only thing from Lexington that is No. 1 in the nation this morning.
Laura Bell Bundy’s “Giddy On Up” is already the No. 1 streamed video at CMT’s website, besting lightweights like, you know, Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, and Jason Aldean. Now, it’s also in the running for Favorite New Video at the country outpost. Bundy is facing Houston Country’s “I Can’t Make it Rain,” which is a nice video, but it looks sort of like, well … Kentucky vs. Arkansas.
“Giddy On Up” is the first single from Bundy’s forthcoming Universal Music Nashville debut, “Achin’ and Shakin’.”
Lady Antebellum‘s “Need You Now” is a lovely echo of the heartland.
The album doesn’t strike a listener this way by wrapping itself up in the Stars and Stripes and marching through amber waves of grain. The keys here are honesty, simplicity, the beautifully blended voices of Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley, craftsmanship of multi-instrumentalist Dave Haywood and the sensitive guidance of veteran producer Paul Worley. The album doesn’t drop until Tuesday, but country and pop radio listeners have already heard this quality in the title track, an after-hours confessional fueled by a bit too much whiskey. Songs like this are when “Need You Now” is at its best — interior ballads like “Hello World” and “If I Knew Then.”
There are also some great numbers that will surely get the crowd on its feet when Lady A opens for Tim McGraw at Rupp Arena next month, chiefly “American Honey” — OK, the album sells it’s down-home roots a little bit. Lady A strikes the right tone for most of the 11 tracks on this effort that not only affirms the group is the real deal after its hit debut, but also shows significant growth. Like the band, “Need You Now” feels familiar on the first listen and then settles in over time.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich