The Hello People were a late-60s sextet that performed in white face and mimed skits amid their live musical performances. Their visual imagery and theatrical skills landed the band slots on several television variety shows, but even with national exposure, their records failed to dent the charts. The group’s best known track, “Anthem,” was a pungent reaction to songwriter Sonny Tongue’s incarceration for draft-dodging, but even its socially-charged message couldn’t lift the group beyond regional success. The group’s sound incorporated several then-current trends, including baroque-pop, sunshine harmonies, country-rock, electric folk and and old-timey jazz. You can hear influences of the Left Banke, Grass Roots, Blues Project, Lovin’ Spoonful and others, and though the band was quite accomplished (especially in flautist Michael Sagarese and bassist Greg Geddes), their lack of a singular style and the novelty of their stage act seem to have relegated them to a footnote. The group continued into the mid-70s in various formations, releasing their own records and backing Todd Rundgren on Back to the Bars, but this 1968 album is the most complete expression of their original concept. Real Gone’s first-ever CD reissue includes the album’s original ten tracks and a twelve-page booklet with new liner notes by Gene Scalutti. Separated from their stage visuals, the group’s music still holds up. [©2013 Hyperbolium]
Posts Tagged ‘Trad Jazz’
To say that Jason Serious’ solo debut is accomplished would be to sell it short. Not only is it full of incredibly memorable original songs, but its evocation of American musical vernacular is all the more extraordinary for his ex-pat status and the talented band of Europeans with which he recorded. To write and record something so immersed in American folk, country and early jazz while living in the states would be difficult enough, but to do so in Munich is nearly unimaginable. If this was a homesick love letter trying to bridge the distance, its rootedness would be more easily explained, but these are songs from a rural Marylander whose roots seem unaffected by the change in firmament, and whose sentiments seem to have nourished his talented, widely-listened band mates.
The brassy shuffle “Met Jack Kerouac” and drunken melody of “Buckets of Gin” recall the goodtime music of the Lovin’ Spoonful, and the steel-lined “ESB” mixes hand-clapping upbeat country-folk, colorful imagery and a chorus (“everybody’s somebody’s beautiful”) that would make Mr. Rogers smile. Serious is a surprisingly polished artist, given that much of his woodshedding took place on the couch; it’s only in the past few years that he began sharing his solo work with others, and only in the past year that he began recording. The sessions themselves choreographed a dozen local musicians, adding deft splashes of banjo, violin, mandolin, steel, horns and harmony vocals across the nine tracks. Ausgezeichnet! [©2012 hyperbolium dot com]
On her fifth album, singer-songwriter Brigette DeMeyer shows off an impressive range of styles. There’s the rootsy gospel “One Wish,” the road warrior’s country-rock lament “This Fix I’m In,” the trad-jazz “Alright A-Coming,” and the irresistible New Orleans-styled “Say Big Poppa.” Each provides a different angle on DeMeyer’s on a soulful voice whose edges resound with the character of Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow and (if you listened past her megahit singles), Deana Carter. DeMeyer blends just as easily with fingerpicked acoustic guitars as with twangy pedal steel and the fat tone of a muted trombone. She’s supported by Sam Bush (founder of one of DeMeyer’s earliest musical influences, New Grass Revival), Will Kimbrough, Mike Farris and co-produced by drummer Brady Blade. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]