This Sunday, February 3rd at 9E/6P Norah Jones performs before an intimate crowd at NYC’s legendary Metropolis Studios on Storytellers. Norah Jones opens up on her past heartbreaks, her early days as a struggling musician in New York, her deep love of country music and other influences that have shaped her iconic songwriting. A highlight of the evening included Jones’ account of her first meeting with her future label, Blue Note Records. An unknown artist at the time looking for her big break, Jones talked about her anxiety before the meeting and her subsequent journey from traditional jazz singer to contemporary singer/songwriter. That journey led to the eventual release of her blockbuster, Grammy award-winning first album, “Come Away With Me.” This episode features performances of her mega-hit “Don’t Know Why” along with “Little Broken Hearts” and “Happy Pills” from her new album, “Little Broken Hearts.”
Photograph by Patrick Doyle
Fun fact: Seal has eight studio albums. EIGHT! Forgive me if you already knew this, but I suppose this is why he so easily commanded the stage at RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest. He’s a legitimate international superstar and we were lucky enough to score an interview with him prior to taking the stage. (Another Seal surprise? He has to be at least 6’4. And built like a quarterback.)
After sitting down with Nickelback for a full hour in our recent “Nickelback In Sixty” special (which you can watch here), seeing them backstage at Bluesfest was something like a family reunion. And no reunion is complete without bear hugs, which drummer Daniel Adair voraciously threw upon Matt Wells when he first saw him, knocking the both of them over into a chair.
Matt spoke with Chad and Daniel at length about music, life, how the tour is going and what the deal was with that floating stage of theirs on the previous tour. The elaborate stage picked them up and carried them out and over top of the crowd and in Chad’s words, was powered by “the hand of Zeus.” Without going into too many specifics about dollars and cents, he also let us know that it cost well over SEVEN FIGURES to produce. That’s a lot of nickels. (Sorry.)
There have been a few interviews that we wanted to score during our time at Bluesfest that didn’t materialize, which is simply the way it goes at festivals. Unfortunately for us (but mostly Matt), Norah Jones was one of them. She did, however, partake in some of our Tornado Potatoes, which are exactly what you think they would be:
Norah took to the main stage to close the evening and sweetly serenaded the hearts and minds of thousands who showed up to watch her. As for Matt, although he didn’t get to interview one of his biggest music crushes, he can at least say that the two of them shared a salty snack.
RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest goes until July 15. For the full schedule head to http://www.ottawabluesfest.ca and be sure to follow us on Twitter @MuchMore for real time coverage of all our #Bluesfest antics.
- Sarah Dawley
What I love about songs from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s is that the lyrics were simple and beautiful. We look back at those musical eras as a very romantic time because the songs were very romantic: “My heart is sad and lonely, for you I sigh, for you dear only”- I’m not sure anyone would have the stones to write something like that these days. It’s from the classic tune “Body and Soul” originally written in 1930 and subsequently recorded by artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holliday and recently tackled by Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse on the new Tony Bennett Duet’s album. It was Amy’s last recording before we lost her this past summer and through this classic jazz standard we are reminded of what an amazing and unique voice she had.
Here’s what I don’t like: The pop music formula that goes verse, chorus, verse, chorus, rap bridge, double chorus, out. I really have a hate on for just jamming a random MC into song where it doesn’t fit just for the sake of jumping on that trend; a trend that is being abused in a big bad way these days mostly by the people responsible for the Justin Bieber’s and Coady Simpson’s of the world (forgive me for knowing this but with a 5 year old daughter who likes to watch The Family Channel I have no choice), let’s not fool ourselves however, it’s happening with more songs than just those that cater to the tween empire. Here’s what I do like: when the 2 worlds make sense together like Q-Tip featuring Norah Jones. When you listen to this song it makes sense from beginning to end and it doesn’t feel strange when the vocals switch from Norah singing to Q-tip rapping.
There have been some pretty epic songs written about New York City: “Theme from New York, New York” made famous by Frank Sinatra, “New York Sate of Mind” by Billy Joel, “The Message” by Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five (one of the most important hip hop songs of all time AND is about NY which I don’t think a lot of people know), “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues……and I could go on and on. Very recently, with the help of Alicia Keys, Jay-Z salvaged a song about New York that almost didn’t see the light of day, well actually it’s a song about how awesome Jay-Z thinks he is but, ya know, he’s Jay-Z .
When most people hear the name Ray Charles, I don’t think too many associate him with County Music but believe it or not Country Music was a big part of his musical life. In the early 60’s he released “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music” Volumes 1 and 2: a collection of Nashville songs as performed by Ray Charles (Volume 1 is considered one of the greatest albums of all time on both a musical and cultural level). In the mid 80’s he released a handful of country albums and scored 12 hits, the biggest was a duet with the most mentioned Matt Track artist: my man Willie Nelson.
thanks for listening.
I’ve expressed my musical man crush for Glen Hansard before; Glen is one half of The Swell Season, who shot to fame for starring in and providing the music for the movie “Once”. Along with his other musical half Marketa Irglova, The Swell Season won the Academy Award for best original song in 2008 providing one of the best moments in music ever. However, Glen had already found success in his Dublin based band The Frames and as an actor for his role in the movie The Commitments but please allow me to geek out even further: Bronagh Gallagher, an actress from Dublin was also in The Commitments and 4 years later she wore a Frames T-shirt in the movie Pulp Fiction…which is just my way of telling you to listen to The Frames, The Swell Season, watch Once, Pulp Fiction and that I heart Glen Hansard.
In 2003, after just one record, The Blue Van were plucked out of Denmark by the biggest American indie label at the time, TVT records. The band, who hadn’t even broken in their home country yet, were shipped off to NYC with a plan to break them in the US. They lived and did some residencies in Brooklyn for a few years which is how I found out about them when my old band was added to one of their shows and I watched them tear up the stage of a place called The Trash Bar-they were really really good and I was filled with hope to see a band actually being developed by a record label. That hope didn’t last long unfortunately because after building them for few years, investing a ton of loot and getting them on tours with Jet and The Killers, TVT records decided to drop the band (then TVT records went bankrupt because of a Pitbull lawsuit- *cough cough* musical karma). However, this all went down a few years ago and I’m sad to report that while Pitbull is still kicking around, The Blue Van continue making the rock and roll …. but now from the safety of Denmark.
My Son the Hurricane is (at the very least) a 13-piece band from St. Catherine’s, Ontario and 8 of those pieces is just the horn section!!!! It’s kind of hard to describe the sound but I think it would have to go something like this: picture a parade of jazz musicians jamming with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, marching through the streets of New Orleans with a live drummer, an MC and a beautifully sampled voice providing the hooks. The only thing to point out however is that sample is a real voice. Seriously, I asked the drummer what the sample was from this song because I loved it and wanted to find the original and he said….”ahh dude, it’s our singer.”
I am smitten with Norah Jones and I’m not afraid to say it (I’m also smitten with the word smitten). I’m not just smitten because her voice is so damn beautiful that she can sing about ChexMix and make you fall in love – which she actually did on a Lonely Island track called “Dreamgirl” –it’s because she has one of the last romantic record industry stories left in the business. She was a waitress singing in coffee houses and jazz clubs when she was introduced to the boss of Blue Note Records by an account executive. The record label boss (who I picture smoking a cigar and using words like baby and hip) hears her sing, signs her on the spot, and her debut album wins five Grammys and sells 8 million copies. I worked at a restaurant called Jungle Jims followed by a stint at a TGI Friday’s and all got was the skill of carrying 4 plates of food at once.
For the past month or so it seems like every person I know has asked me “dude, have you seen the new Foo Fighter’s documentary”? It got to the point that I was getting repeat askers “Wells, have you seen it yet?!” I started thinking to myself “It can’t be THAT good, can it?” Well it IS that good, it’s called “Back and Forth” and you NEED to see it, just to hear Dave Grohl talk about Nirvana so candidly will make it worth your while but above and beyond that, the story of the Foo Fighters that is told is pretty amazing, I promise. Now, speaking of The Foo Fighters, this gives me an opportunity I like to seize as often as possible: their 1997 album “The Color and the Shape” is the best rock and roll album of the past 20 years and this is the best rock song. Period.