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Posts Tagged ‘Billy Midnight’

48261_301408206640767_665255221_o*Recently I was asked to write a new bio for a musician friend whose music I have long admired. This is the bio that I sent to him. The entire post below didn’t make it though the editing process, so rather than leave hard-thought words flailing on the cutting room floor, I am posting the bio here. The final version can be found at Billy’s website, billyshaddox.com.

Billy Shaddox is blessed with the ability to blend the Western dualities of coastal dreamer and high mountain drifter into his deep, easy flowing songs.

Rooted in stories of love and fortune lost, perspective and enlightenment gained, Shaddox captures the mystique of the West with indelible lyrical imagery and sharply original musicality: the displaced modern man weary of coping with vanishing ideals, the present-minded realist, the uncontrollable jealousy of the downtrodden miner, and the bright-eyed morning traveler setting out to make his mark on the world.

The characters who inhabit Shaddox’s tunesy tales have a depth of personality and situational believability that leaves the listener feeling affected by their being long after their songs have woven their course.

Golden Fate, Shaddox’s newest record, builds on a strong decade of songwriting and musical performance that has now seen two solo records that easily fit into the Americana genre, along with four releases by his powerful, unheralded San Diego-based country-rock band Billy Midnight.

The record is generously layered with Shaddox’s signature lonesome Telecaster twang, picture perfect acoustic guitar and banjo work, and the soulful wail of his homemade lap steel. The lyrics are neck hair bristling at times, captivatingly laced with references to the wondrous powers of nature and destiny, the joys and travails of living simply, and the introspective importance of home and family. It is one of those rare records that, without being over ambitious in an effort to, seems to eerily match the listeners life circumstances in subtle ways that are revealed deep into multiple listening sessions.

Bouncy and evocative like the best Woody Guthrie dustbowl gospels at times, dark and forlorn in Cashesque grandeur at others, Golden Fate verily demands for to be taken out on a long, thoughtful desert drive where it should be played through barely adequate speakers that compete with the crackling of a sage and juniper campfire, echoing on and on off of steep canyon walls.

Corby Anderson

Emma, Colorado

January 4, 2013

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Evil Delicious: SHAZAM flaunts the Unknowable

by Corby Anderson

3-29-09

This late-forming thought will shock no one, and in fact may go down as old, tired news, like the Rocky, the Post-Dispatch, the Valley Journal, and all of the other tree based word holders. I am, if anything, behind the times and woefully slow to get with the program, but in this case my mind is so knotted and wrung out that I must offer my thoughts before they are completely choked off. Just for the record, assuming the power don’t go out, and the Chinese don’t delete the internet.

I speak here of the diabolically unbelievable, evil delicious technological tool known as the Shazam APP. A more tantalizing APPlication there never was! Download the damned thing to your iPhone miracle machine, point it at a speaker with music emissions and watch in delirium as the software crawls the entire history of known music, and in about the same time it would take you to say the words “there is no fucking way”, delivers to your phone-top a complete accounting of the song being analyzed.

My experiment started with the Billy Midnight song “Fireflies”. Ever the skeptic, my weariness of the much-hyped APP was bolstered when the digital read out whirly doogy circumnavigated a quick, blue clock spin, rejoining itself in such as way as to give the impression of a snake eating it’s tail, but came back with nothing but a vague TRY AGAIN message. Unrecognized, to be exact. Hmm. Sorry Bill. I dunno. Maybe that’s a good thing? Maybe being tagged by this bad bitch is worse than digital leprosy, more viral than Malworms…

All experiments need a control, and so I pushed on. Randomly listed on the iTunes list was the song TGIM, by the Mother Hips. The song that officially pushed me, hell bent for freedom, out of Colorado and pulled me to the earths edge here on the froggy coast. I pressed the plunger, unsure what to expect. In the grand scheme of things, I figure that maybe the Hips are a little more well known than the Midnight boys, but was ready for another aborted query.

The blue, eyeless Pacman pulsed and throbbed, and finally chomped down like a field amputee biting the bullet as the saw finds the gristle. The screen goes blank for just a split second, and then the screen flips pages, revealing the awful truth, flaunting the unknowable. TGIM. Mother Hips. See there that iconic, instantly recognizable picture of the great green wave cresting on the blue and yellow ovum – the album cover for Kiss The Krystal Flake. And below, a historical review by someone named Zac Johnson, who within seven words of it’s existence has begun to call the band “earthy pop jam rockers”. Scroll down and see the whole multi-decadal thrill ride squeezed into space requiring but a snappy two finger scroll.

Above that is an album review, which seems to start strong, but begins to wander into dangerous waters when trying to explain influences, ultimately ending in a fading whimper saying things like “even if they were just rip-off artists, the beauty of their vocal harmonies would make this record damn near essential for fans of good, sweet, and easy guitar rock – from the 70’s or any time at all”. Uh. Thanks, I think…Tim Sendra of the ubiquitously named All Music Guide.

But reviews be damned anyway, even if written in the blood of the awe struck reviewers first born. The point is that this DEVICE, this omnipresent sound eating God Phone figgered out TGIM within twenty seconds time, which was recorded (?) at just a random point in the song. It ain’t right, really…it just does not make sense. In the parlance of my techno-mentor John Masters, “how do it know?”

The ramifications of this new, wireless conciousness are endless. The futurists are falling too far behind, the machines are learning, they KNOW THINGS that they SHOULDN’T. The worm is turning and growing out of control. Who owns who? Who made who? Where does it stop? Can it know my fingerprints? Smell the air, know my mood, tell my girl where I have been? Can it sense the sick, like a loyal dog sniffing out ass cancer?

Geeks will embrace this tool, and likely revel in it’s intelligence as they sniff out that vague memory of the soundtrack to that one last dance with the Girl Who Would Not. Many obscure songs will see the light of day to new eager generations. But there is a flip side to the genius gene, and it usually includes the word “mad”. Something has shifted here. DJ’s, those who are left, that is, are instantly obsolete and will be the first victims. WHo needs them when you can wang doodle the Shazam dealie-box and get yer kicks instantly? But maybe that is as inevitable as the changing of the tides. Most good DJ”s have gone into the underground world of club based playlist manipulation anyway.

But of course, there is no reason to fear technology, right? That is Luddite terrain, a chasing of old ghosts with a small net. So I will just take this magical thing at face value, and get to catching up on some old dance numbers that are right there, on the tip of my tongue…

-C

 

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