Some free commuter music to start off your week

CMT Edge 2012 SamplerEvery so often I like to peruse the free samplers from Amazon MP3, and as I was doing so this morning I found some commuter tunes among Amazon’s recent additions.

A pleasant listening surprise was the CMT Edge 2012 Sampler — pleasant because country music is not usually a genre that I lean toward. This sampler had three commuter-themed songs — at least when it came to the titles or band names:

The commuter tie-in of the Community Music Sampler is a little more of a stretch, but I enjoyed most of the tracks, so give it a listen. The two loosely commuter-themed songs are “So I Turn” by Aaron Embry and  “Give Me A Sign” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes.

The Green Hill Jazz Sampler has one song that is the perfect Friday drive-home song. Not matter your mood, stresses or traffic volume, it will put you in the right Friday afternoon frame of mind. Fair warning: “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home” by Sam Levine is likely to induce some Dixieland dancing and hand jives in the driver’s seat.

One of my favorite artists of 2010, Frazey Ford, can be found on the Nettwerk Fall Music Sampler 2012 but the commuter song in that collection in both title and artist is “The Wrong Direction” by Passenger.

Finally, this list would not be complete if we did not include “Big Blue Bus” from Max & Ruby Bunny Party. Naturally, this only recommended if you have toddlers. Also check out “Telephone Song” with its subliminal message to use your headset or in-car Bluetooth controls while talking on the phone in the car — or at least that’s my inference from Max’s sirens in the background.

Sam solos at the Sandwich Grade 5 Jazz Band Spring Concert

Tequila! And a surprise “Sammy” Joy solo!

We had no idea the solo was coming. So glad I had the camera rolling! We asked Sam about it later, and he said he had simply wanted to keep it a surprise.

The conductor announced him as Sammy Joy, and ordinarily Sam does not like to be called Sammy. He later confessed, though, that he didn’t mind, likely because he was so excited that he had successfully completed the solo. I told him it would simply have to become his new jazzy stage name, which he seemed to think was a good idea.

Apologies for the jerkiness of the camera. Benjamin was crawling on me a couple of times during the performance. Next time I’ll bring the tripod.

Rock to the Max, Mr. Sax – Part I

This post is a bit tardy. I accompanied Sam a few weeks ago to the Pasta and Jazz Supper at Sandwich High School, where the Fifth Grade Jazz Band helped out with raising money for the high school band to attend a national competition.

Not only did Sam have a great time playing in the concert, but I traded him my cookie for his salad, so he got a double bonus that night!

Update: Part II is here.

Sam’s Band Concert – Jan. 28, 2009

The Henry T. Wing School Grade 5 Band does a song-and-dance number at its Winter Concert on Jan. 28, 2009. Sam is right in the center of things (watch for the identifying ballon at about the 20-second mark), but we were in the Sandwich High School balcony to compensate for a fidgety Benjamin, so it’s a little hard to tell. That, and Daddy the Videographer did not have a very steady hand with his first Blackberry Storm video shoot….

The good news — or bad news depending on your tolerance for video quality — is I finally figured out how to transfer the video from the phone to the laptop via Bluetooth, and then convert it to a format for worldwide consumption. Lucky you, dear viewer!

Now playing: Rusted Root – Send Me on My Way
via FoxyTunes

Favorite music and books of 2008

Each year my friend, Geoff, leads the charge amongst a group of us longtime friends and shares his favorite songs and books of the year. His primary motivation is to inspire reciprocation, thus expanding his musical and literary horizon.

So tonight, while snowed in and sitting by the New Year’s Eve fire with Brandy, I started preparing my ranking, in full anticipation of his e-mail in the next few days. Lo and behold, he was simultaneously preparing his list, and his hit my Inbox while I was in the midst of crafting mine.

Clearly we were on the same wavelength, which serves as further evidence why we’ve been such great friends for so long.

You’ll have to ask Geoff for his personally. He certainly didn’t anticipate his being shared with my small blog audience….

However, for anyone keeping score at home, mine is below.


A couple of notes:

  1. I let iTunes do my ranking for me. My criteria is that the songs were added to my library in 2008, and they are then ranked by rating (four stars or better, a functionality I use throughout the year to mark my favorites). The number of times each has played throughout the year acts as tie-breaker.
  2. Though these songs have been added within the past year, they may have been released in prior years. I think that’s in keeping with how many consume music in this age of the Long Tail.
  3. I’m sharing the list online because many — though not all — of these songs were downloaded for free via iTunes, Amazon, LastFM or the artists themselves. So the least I can do is trade the artists some publicity and back links.

With that out of the way, on with the music.

  1. “Stranger Than a Stranger” by Oliver Future

    Free download of another track:
  2. “How To See The Sun Rise” by Ben Sollee
  3. “Shine On Babylon” by Sheryl Crow
  4. “Our December” by Thriving Ivory

    Free download of another track:
  5. “Flowering Spade” by Sean Hayes

    Free download of another track:
  6. “Hometown Glory” by ADELE

    Some other tracks available here:
  7. “Eve, The Apple of My Eye” by Bell X1
  8. “Bang My Drum” by Danielia Cotton

    Free download of another track:
  9. “You, Me & The Bourgeoisie” by The Submarines

    Free copy:
  10. “Color” by Toby Lightman
  11. “Brotherhood Of Man” by The Innocence Mission
  12. “Something Good This Way Comes” by Jakob Dylan
  13. “Boys With Girlfriends” by Meiko

    Free download of another track:


These are in order of consumption, as they were the only ones I managed to read cover to cover (or listen to on CD) this past year. I did enjoy them all, but “Schulz” and “Dinner With Dad” were easily my favorites:

Please reciprocate with your favorites in the comments. I, like Geoff, look forward to expanding my horizons.

Reliving Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Live at The Wilbur Theatre, Sept. 25

Brandy and I were able to go on our second date this month (our pace is usually one per month), meeting a friend in Boston Thursday night for dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery before heading across the street to The Wilbur Theatre for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

When we arrived at the upper level balcony, our usher informed us that the show was being taped, and the sound folks had set up their gear right in front of our seats. The good news was she did not expect the balcony to be crowded, and invited us to sit a few rows back.

(The photo was taken by one of sound folks before the show started. I didn’t have my camera with us.)

All was well in the end. Not only did we not have to peer through the microphones to watch the show, but the seats in front of us were not occupied, so we could stretch out a bit.

Here’s the buried lede: Grace Potter and The Nocturnals rocked the house! The show was fantastic. There was not a single disappointing moment. The band was tight, and the performance energy was top-notch. It was clearly the band’s A game.

For those not familiar with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, they’re a cross between Bonnie Raitt and The Black Crowes. During the show I was flashing back at times to when I saw the latter at the Hollywood Bowl more than 15 years ago. I would classify neither the Nocturnals nor the Crowes as jam bands, but man, can they jam!

The 11-minute version of “Over Again” to close the set was outstanding. So too was the 7-minute “Stop the Bus.” Covers of Erma Thomas’ “Pain In My Heart,” Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black,” which was a great meld with “Sugar“, and Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” were all great interpretations.

I especially enjoyed the latter. Grace shuffled the lyrics some, but does it really matter with that song? I’ve done the same when I’ve performed it over the years. The key was that the whole band owned the song, and made it theirs — the path to success with any cover tune. Made me want to go home, pick up the guitar and do the same.

There were two encores, which Grace announced was rare. I was grateful for the second one, as I was starting to worry I wouldn’t get to see them perform, “Big White Gate,” my favorite of theirs.

But it was the first encore that really punctuated the show. Not only was “Sweet Emotion” trotted out to close that encore, but they kicked it off with an extended edition of “Nothing But The Water,” bisected by an all-band drum solo that was the most unique take on the rock show tradition that I have seen. All four band members pounded out syncopated rhythms that combined to make one outstanding, unified beat. I hope someone got a video of it. It was something to behold. You couldn’t help but clap and stamp along.

(Update: Bless, YouTube. I found a video of the drum solo! It starts about 3 minutes into this clip.)

Best of all? The full concert was online at the next day. That was the ultimate payoff for giving up our front-row balcony seats. Now we — and you — can relive the show as often as we’d like.

Now playing: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – Here’s to the Meantime
via FoxyTunes

OSFT and Sonya Kitchell

I don’t know why I never noticed this before, but I just discovered that the live recording I have of Old School Freight Train playing “Let Me Go” (here’s a YouTube video of another performance of that song) is actually a cover of remarkably similar to (Ed note: My wife points out to me that they are not, in fact, the same song…) Sonya Kitchell’s song. At least I think it’s hers. Her Web site seems to indicate it as such:

‘Let Me Go’ is about my parents and me coming into my own as my own person.

I’ve had the OSFT live cut on my iPod for a while, as part of an archive of a live show I downloaded two years ago. I am sure I have also heard the Sonya Kitchell recording at least a few times before recently downloading it from the 2008 SXSW band listings.

The funny thing is I like each version equally. I can’t say I prefer one over the other. How about you?

Free Songs from WBOS and The Boston Globe

This dastardly Internet thing can be the downfall of even the most innovative circulation promotions.

Tucked inside The Boston Globe this past Sunday was a flier, co-promoting WBOS. The headline read, “Get up to 12 songs FREE!” Excellent! I put it aside for later exploration.

Earlier today, the flier resurfaced on my desk, so I immediately spied the URL (it was in the next biggest type on the page), and went to From there, I was able to download a song each from Chad Perrone, The Pernice Brothers, OSB and The Dead Trees.

My next question was where to look for the other 8 potential downloads? Nothing on the Web page gave any clues.

So I went back to the flier, and that’s when I discovered the true nature of the promotion, in much smaller type:

Pick up another copy of today’s Globe and look for The Boston Globe/92.9 WBOS insert. Check the insert for a different URL to access more free music. In all there are three unique URLS, with a total of 12 songs to download. Good luck!

Oy! No way I was finding a Sunday Globe on Tuesday. What to do, what to do, what to do…?

Internet ahoy! A couple of clicks from Google later, I encountered this forum thread, which kindly shared the correctly hacked URLS to gain access to the other 8 songs.

Because I neither purchased extra newspapers nor parted with any information when downloading the songs, I’m not entirely positive what benefit the Globe or the radio station received from the promotion, other than being associated with discovery of new Massachusetts music.

(I would have happily registered, WBOS, for what it’s worth, especially if the trade-off would have been adding me to an e-mail list from which I would have learned about the availability of more new music)

The real winners? The musicians whose songs I downloaded. Of the 12, I knew of only 2 previously. So that’s 10 more local music acts that I am more exposed to today than I was yesterday. I’m appreciative, and I’m sure the musicians are too.