Archive for Stevie Wonder

Live Review: Stevie Wonder, Houston

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2015 by 30daysout

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At 8:55, the great Stevie Wonder was escorted onto the stage to a standing ovation at the Toyota Center by his daughter, Aisha Morris. Yes, the same Aisha crying in “Isn’t She Lovely.” She is lovely and quite curvy, but that’s another story. Wonder proceeded to apologize to the sold out crowd for being almost an hour late, but he said it had been a tough day. One of his band members, Keith John, was found unconscious in his hotel room. He made sure to let us to know that no matter what we hear, it was not drug-related. Clearly shaken,Wonder then told the crowd a little about the album we were about to hear…Songs in the Key of Life. He then walked over to his keyboard and proceeded to rip into “Love’s In Need of Love Today.” With this we were on our way to an amazing musical extravaganza.

Members of the Houston Symphony joined Wonder on a beautiful version of “Village Ghetto Land” and then he proceeded to blow the roof off the place with a back-to-SonginKeyback-to-back tour de force of “Contusion,” “Sir Duke” and “I Wish,” featuring the legendary Nathan Watts on bass. “Knocks Me Off My Feet” was next and, in a word, was unbelievable. At the end of the song, he let his backup singers show off a bit, and told the crowd his band likes to “jam,” which they proceeded to do to the great delight of the crowd. He even let one of the Symphony violinists have a solo. “Ordinary Pain” finished off side 2 and brought Aisha Morris front and center with two other singers for the soulful ending that resulted in a standing ovation from many, including me. He ended the first set with great versions of “Saturn” and “Ebony Eyes,” two songs off the “Something Extra” 7″ single that came with the original album.

After a short 20 minute break, Wonder proceeded to tell us he has 9 children, and was looking for the men to give him some respect, which we did. He also told his daughter Aisha that “I saw you before your mama did.” A stellar version of the song he wrote about her, “Isn’t She Lovely,” kicked off the set, followed by “Joy Inside My Tears,” clearly the most soulful tune of the night and one that left Wonder with tears streaming down his cheeks. “Black Man” and “All Day Sucker” were incredibly funky and “Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call)” showed off Wonder’s incredible ability to play the harmonica.

“Ngiculela – Es Una Historia – I Am Singing” started off side four, one of the best sides of any album ever. After performing his vocal part with one of his backup singers, Wonder sat down to play an instrument that I didn’t recognize. He proceeded to include versions of “Tequila” and Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” a tune that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Wonder explained the beautiful “If It’s Magic” is about love and it’s magic power. He sang to the original harp track performed by Dorothy Ashby, who he said died before the success of the album. “As” brought the crowd to it’s feet and a rousing “Another Star” kept them dancing for another eight minutes. Wonder then asked us if we were ready to go home, to which we emphatically said NO. He then sat down at the piano to play “When the World Began,” a new tune he’s working on with David Foster. It was so new, he screwed up the beginning and had to start over.

He again asked if we were ready to home, to which we screamed louder…NO. At this point he said “Stevie Wonder has left the building….I am now “DJ TICK TICK BOOM.” A DJ set up on the piano allowed him to tease with some of his classic tunes. He then did brief versions of “Livin’ for the City” and “For Once in My Life” before ending the night with an energetic version of “Superstition” that had the crowd dancing in the aisles.

This was a magical night of music. I had been waiting for this since I received the album as an Easter present in 1977 and Wonder and crew did not disappoint. As I watched him perform you could tell that he is on a different level of life than everyone else. Maybe not being able to see helps him see everything better than the rest of us. All I know is that if everyone had Stevie Wonder’s spirit there would no war, no racial hatred and the world would be a much better place.

Stevie Wonder Official Website

Free Live Paul McCartney concert on Thursday

Posted in News with tags , , , on February 7, 2012 by 30daysout

Paul McCartney will peform an intimate concert from Capitol Studios in Hollywood on Thursday, Feb. 9. You can stream it for free on iTunes – it’s to help promote his new album Kisses On The Bottom, a collection of love songs that comes out today.

The concert begins at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST here. From the news release: Kisses On The Bottom is a collection of standards Paul grew up listening to in his childhood, including two new McCartney compositions  “My Valentine” and “Only Our Hearts.”  With the help of Grammy Award-winning producer Tommy LiPuma and Diana Krall and her band— as well as guest appearances from Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder, Paul’s new album is a deeply personal journey through classic American compositions.

The CD will be available at a Starbucks near you – or from iTunes, which will carry a specially mastered (for iTunes) version. You probably already know if this is for you – but if not, here’s a video taste:

Paul McCartney official website

Link to Thursday’s live show (connects to iTunes)

Video Du Jour: Stevie Wonder

Posted in News with tags , on January 16, 2012 by 30daysout

Today is a very important day in our country – we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who worked to achieve civil rights for Americans in the 1960s. This work also cost him his life, but it made him a symbol for a noble cause.

On his 1980 album Hotter Than July Stevie Wonder sang “Happy Birthday,” which is a tribute to Dr. King. I couldn’t find a video of him actually performing the song but here’s a tribute of sorts with the studio version. If I can find a live version I’ll add it.

Austin City Limits Festival lineup announced, griping begins

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , on May 17, 2011 by 30daysout

Performers have been announced for the 10th annual Austin City Limits music festival, scheduled for Sept. 16-18 in Austin’s Zilker Park. Headliners include Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, Coldplay, My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire, Alison Krauss & Union Station and Fleet Foxes. You can see the whole lineup here.

Before the announcement fans speculated on artists that included Radiohead, the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Paul Simon and maybe even the reformed Buffalo Springfield. All of those acts are booked at other festivals this summer and at first glance the ACL lineup seems in line with the other three major U.S. festivals – Bonnaroo, Coachella and Lollapalooza. But truth to be told, the Austin lineup also feels a little off, when you consider it’s the 10th anniversary of the festival and all. You would expect something a little more spectacular, you know?

The middle part of the roster includes diverse acts like Randy Newman, Iron & Wine, Chromeo, TV On The Radio (didn’t one of its members just die?), Airborne Toxic Event, Big Boi, etc. which may be fine to see for free at SXSW but a little harder to get enthused about when you’re paying $185 for a three-day entry. The middle part of the lineup seems light on hometown heroes this year, even though it includes staples Asleep at the Wheel, Jack Ingram, Ryan Bingham, Hayes Carll and Courtyard Hounds (two-thirds of the Dixie Chicks). And Fleet Foxes just played Austin a few weeks ago, Bright Eyes had a free full show during SXSW – you can nitpick this one to death.

Stevie Wonder set for ACL Fest.

But on the other hand: Arcade Fire is the biggest band in the world after its Grammy Award for Best Album, Kanye West may be a dick but he’s also backing an acclaimed current album, and Stevie Wonder is a stone legend. So if any of these interest you, go to the ACL festival website sooner than later and purchase a one-day ticket for $90. Three-day passes sold out a long time ago, but they are easy to find (particularly a few days before the event) on StubHub and Craigslist.

The fest, with a capacity of 75,000 a day, grossed just over $15 million in ticket sales last year but it’s the cheapest ticket of the four major U.S. festivals. Three-day passes to Lollapalooza are $215, Coachella and Bonnaroo multidays also top $200. But one weird thing about ACL is that it’s the only one that puts three-day passes on sale before it announces headliners or any part of its lineup.

This year, the limited amount of three-day passes sold out within a few hours and now all that’s left are one-day tickets at 90 bucks apiece – if you want to go all three days, do the math … it’s more expensive than any other festival. So it’s no wonder ACL has so many complainers. Maybe they should use a more conventional ticketing system and not let fans’ expectations run wild.

Well, if you’re in Texas and want to do some outdoor music before September, by all means check out the Free Press Summerfest, slated for June 4-5 in Houston’s Eleanor Tinsley Park. This one has as headliners Weezer, Cut Copy, Ween, Big Boi, Beirut, Yeasayer and many others. General admission weekend passes are $45 and are still on sale!

Austin City Limits festival website

Free Press Summerfest website

Je n’ai rien appris, Part 2 – More foreign language fun

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2011 by 30daysout

The Beach Boys in Japan, 1966.

More versions of English/American hits done in other languages by the original artists. Now, there are TONS of hit songs that were remade for European and Japanese music fans – the Beatles’ remakes alone could fill a large warehouse – but we thought we’d focus here on the versions cut by the people who made the hits. I would give anything to see how long it took Johnny Cash to lay down German versions of his songs.

Full disclosure: “Santo Domingo” by Wanda Jackson, was actually originally recorded only in German in 1965. She cut a handful of German-language songs that were eventually collected on an album, Made In Germany.

MP3: “Le Temps des Fleurs” (Those Were The Days) by Mary Hopkin (French)

MP3: “Lowdown” (live, sung in Japanese) by Chicago

MP3: “Santo Domingo” by Wanda Jackson (German)

MP3: “My Cherie Amor” (Italian version) by Stevie Wonder

MP3: “Wer kennt den Weg” (I Walk The Line) by Johnny Cash (German)

MP3: “Sie Liebt Dich” (She Loves You) by the Beatles (German)

MP3: “L’amore Verrà” (You Can’t Hurry Love) by the Supremes (Italian)

MP3: “Call Me” (Spanish version) by Blondie

MP3: “96 Tears” (en Español) by ? and the Mysterians

MP3: “Waterloo” (French version) by ABBA

MP3: “Wie Schön Das Ist” (How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You) by Marvin Gaye (German)

MP3: “Green Circles” (Italian version) by the Small Faces

MP3: “Downtown” (German version) by Petula Clark

MP3: “Gira Gira” (Reach Out I’ll Be There) by the Four Tops (Italian)

Last-Minute Christmas Mixtapes

Posted in Christmas with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2010 by 30daysout

Only two mixtape-making days until Christmas!  We’re here for all your last-minute music needs!

MP3: “Funky Funky Christmas” by Electric Jungle

MP3: “Let It Snow” by The Diplomats of Solid Sound

MP3: “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love

MP3: “White Christmas” by Otis Redding

MP3: “Joy To The World” by Aretha Franklin

MP3: “Presents For Christmas” by Solomon Burke

MP3: “The Little Drummer Boy” by Stevie Wonder

MP3: “Christmas Comes But Once A Year” by Charles Brown

MP3: “Christmas Time (Beggin’ Santa Claus)” by The Black Ace

MP3: “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Carla Thomas

MP3: “Christmas In Harlem” (Remix) by Kanye West (featuring Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Vado, Cyhi Da Prynce, Pusha-T, Musiq Soulchild, Teyana Taylor & Big Sean)

MP3: “The Christmas Song” by Redd Foxx (as Fred Sanford)

MP3: “Merry Christmas Mama” by Bill Cosby

MP3: “Poor Mr. Santa” by Andre Williams (Not Safe For Work)

MP3: “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” by Darlene Love & Ronnie Spector

MP3: “I Want To Come Home For Christmas” by Marvin Gaye

MP3: “Frosty The Snowman” by the Ronettes

MP3: “Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto” by James Brown

YouTube: “A Charlie Brown’s Christmas in Hollis”



Review: “Going Back” by Phil Collins

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2010 by 30daysout

Artists have been recording cover songs for years, and putting them out as singles, or b-sides. However, the trend recently has been to put out an entire album of hits recorded by others. Rod Stewart sold millions of CDs using this formula, and now Phil Collins is hoping to follow in “Big Nose’s” footsteps with his latest batch of Motown tunes titled, Going Back.

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