Sunday, October 22, 2006

Jorge Miguel injects some soul into Georgetown

I had the pleasure of seeing a very talented flamenco guitarist by the name of Jorge Miguel at Georgetown's John Elliot Theatre last week.

Living in Georgetown, it can sometimes feel like you're stuck in an episode of Last Of The Summer Wine: it's not the most vibrant place on the planet. But, hopefully Miguel's appearance is a sign of change to come.

I've been to see a number of other flamenco guitarists in the past, but Jorge's was much more traditional than the others (a good thing -- the guitar and palmas come to the foreground, and there's a lot more "air" in the sound). Some other artists in this genre have one or two songs done in this style (or in an approximation of it), but it was refreshing to see an entire performance done that way. The performance style reminded me of Teye, and that is a strong compliment.

The other flamenco artists that I've seen live -- Jesse Cook, Robert Michaels, Johannes Linstead -- are all very talented in their own ways, but I prefer the traditional sound, and Jorge Miguel's performance was very satisfying. It was also the first performance I've seen with some genuine flamenco dancing, where the dancing took centre-stage and contributed to the musicality rather than being a sidelined flourish.

I hope Georgetown warms up fast to this type of music so that we can see more like it: the initial response was disappointing, although the people that turned up seemed to enjoy it very much. Until then, the Oakville Centre and Living Arts Centre are good nearby places to see other live music like this. But, again, if Jorge Miguel comes to your area, it's incredibly worthwhile to go and see him and his band perform.

You can sample his music and buy his CD from CDBaby. I picked the CD up from his concert for $15.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

The tail-end of generation X makes its mark in music: John Mayer and Ray LaMontagne

It's extremely encouraging to see the tail-end of Generation X making its mark in music. The following two albums both give you hope for the future of music in the hands of this generation:

John Mayer - "Continuum"
Ray LaMontagne - "Till The Sun Turns Black"

Both albums were released within the last few weeks, and both are outstanding.

John Mayer's album, in particular, shows incredible growth from his first two albums. He has always had strong lyrics, and his voice has always been very expressive. He's always been good with melodies. But, now the layering of the music -- the heart and soul and the subtleties that were often hidden under sometimes superficial pop/rock distraction -- are catching up with the rest of his talent. It's outstanding.

The hope inspired that I mentioned above is not so much about originality, but more about high quality, soulful, realistically positive music (as in, it's positive on average, and it knows why it's positive, despite the acknowledgement of negative forces). Neither of these artists could be accused of being entirely original, but they are both beginning to master the subtleties that make music special and timeless.

This generation could accomplish so much if it could shake off its nihilism. Here is hoping. It's two and counting... I'm trying my best to do the same.

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