Albums of 2010

December 21, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s that time of year for everyone to start compiling the list of their favorite albums of the year. This post however lists the albums that I purchased through the year. They are in alphabetical order:

The Album Leaf “A Chorus of Storytellers”
Arcade Fire “The Suburbs”
Band of Horses “Infinite Arms”
Beach House “Teen Dream”
The Bird and The Bee “Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates”
The Black Keys “Brothers”
Brian Wilson “Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin”
Broken Bells “Broken Bells”
Broken Social Scene “Forgiveness Rock Record”
Corrine Bailey Rae “The Sea”
The Dead Weather “Sea of Cowards”
Deftones “Diamond Eyes”
Efterklang “Magic Chairs”
Jakob Dylan “Women and Country”
Jenny and Johnny “I’m Having Fun Now”
John Legend and The Roots “Wake Up”
Johnny Cash “American VI: Ain’t No Grave”
Kings of Leon “Come Around Sundown”
Mavis Staples “You Are Not Alone”
Menomena “Mines”
MGMT “Congratulations”
Mumford and Sons “Sigh No More”
The National “High Violet”
The New Pornographers “Together”
Patty Griffin “Downtown Dream”
Philip Selway “Familial”
Ray LaMontagne and The Pariah Dogs “God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise”
The Roots “How I Got Over”
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings “I Learned the Hard Way”
Spoon “Transference”
Sufjan Stevens “The Age of Adz”

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Featured Musician: Sam Fisher

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment






Musician:Sam Fisher

Website: http://samsongs.com

Twitter: SamFisherJr.












Life is Music: Tell us about yourself.


Sam Fisher:
I’m a second generation musician to a horn player and gospel singer. I’ve been involved in music in some form or another for most of my life. I’m currently living in Durham NC with my wife Natasha and my daughter Emma (5). We are expecting our second
daughter Addison this month. I am one of the worship leaders at The Summit Church
here in RDU. During the week, I work for Yep Roc Music Group and independent
record label.






LiM:When did you first get involved in the music industry? How are you currently involved in the music industry?


SF:
My first instrument was the saxophone back when I was 10 years old. From there
I learn some piano, finally settling on the guitar in college. I began touring in 1994
while still in college releasing my first record in 1995. Since that time, I’ve released
eight other records selling over 30,000 units worldwide. Ive got a collaboration with a
trip hop group (fleau pronounced “flow”) that I’ll be releasing late fall. A fourth Sam
Fisher album is in the very early stages of development and could be release mid 2011.


I’ve also begun the transition to “the other side of the desk” by founding a label
administration and event production company called Lucas Gambit. We’ll provide
assistance to newly formed labels in the areas of accounting, distribution and project
management. Lucas Gambit’s event company specializes in concert and festival
production that provides turn-key solutions for companies looking to produce music
events. We’ve also spun off a non-profit organization called Remix 919 that provides
financial assistance for music instruction (lessons, instruments, etc) for under-privileged
youth in RDU.






LiM: What instruments do you play? List your gear.


SF:
I play electric and acoustic guitar and bass guitar. I’ve got a pretty basic electric rig
because Im a bit of a minimalist believing that great tone begins and ends with the guitar
and the amp. Ive got a vintage American Fender Mustang that’s been modified with
humbucker pickups in the neck and bridge. My second electric is a Fender Stratocaster
reissue. I play through Rivera Chubster 40 tube amp. For pedals I have an OCD
overdrive, Deluxe Memory Boy, a modified Russian Big Muff and a Robert Keely Boss
Blues driver.






LiM: Who are some of your biggest musical influences?


SF:
Growing up I listen to all of the R&B greats, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Marvin
Gaye, Bill Withers as well as gospel legends Larnelle Harris and Commissioned. Of
the current generation of artists, I’m all over the map drawing inspiration from Israel
Houghton, Switchfoot, Phil Wickham, and Fred Hammond. On the mainstream side,
I lean more adult alternative pop (Rob Thomas, John Mayer, Seal) and R&B crossover
(John Legend, D’Angelo).






LiM: You have just recorded a new album entitled “From Age to Age”. Can you give us
some insight into the concept of this album?


SF:
“From Age to Age” is inspired by Psalm 145:3-7 that basically proclaims that the Lord
is great and is to be praised from generation to generation. As a father and a Christian,
I personally believe that I am called to declare God’s greatness to the next generation,
my children included. Knowing that my career is in its later years, I want to take every
opportunity to proclaim the glory of God including my music.


On a personal note, the album almost chronicles my surrender to God and the Jesus’
call to “deny myself and follow Him”. The songs follow the path of the call, revelation
and complete surrender to this call. After spending the better part of my 15 year career
releasing music that glorified me, Im announcing to this generation and the generations to
follow that I live, breathe and sing to glorify the risen savior Jesus Christ.






LiM: Where did you record this album and who helped with creating the album?


SF:
I reached out to an old, dear friend of mine Dan Hannon who is best known for his work
with Manchester Orchestra (Columbia) and Aaron Shust (Brash). He and I go way
back to our touring days, so when I called and explained the vision of the album and the
church he didn’t hesitate to helm the project and produce it.


I leaned heavily on another great friend and songwriter Jonathan Welch who is the Multi-
Site Worship Director at Summit. Welch is a multi-instrumentalist who just so happens
to have a Masters of Divinity so he brought a great deal to the table in crafting these
tunes. We also co-wrote a tune with Centricity artist Matt Papa who recently joined
Summit as a worship leader.






LiM: I’m always intrigued by the musician’s choice for the first track of an
album. Why did you choose to start this album with “Taking Up My Cross”?


SF:
I wanted the disc to mirror my journey to complete surrender to God. The opening line
of the song says: “when You call, You bid me come and die that I might find true life
only in you”. “Taking Up My Cross” is my declaration that Im all in. The album is
basically bookended by Taking Up My Cross and another tune “All I Seek” in which
the last words the listener will hear me sing are: “my one desire: to dwell in Your house
forevermore”.






LiM: This album is being released under Summit Worship. Tell us about Summit Worship
and how you came to the decision to release the album under Summit Worship.


SF:
Summit Worship’s vision is to raise up a new crop of worship leaders and songwriters
who contribute expositional worship music that engages culture. We want to faithfully
speak the truth while keeping the songs congregational. Summit has a wealth of talented
singer-songwriters and worship leaders who basically didn’t have a platform to release
music. My prayer is that this record will be the catalyst for building that platform as all
of the proceeds will fund future projects and artist development at Summit.






LiM: Is there a tour planned to promote this album? If someone would like to book you for
an event, who should they contact?


SF:
There are conversations taking place concerning a tour but they are in the early stages. If they would like to book me, they can contact: booking@lucasgambit.com.






LiM: It’s fun to learn what other musicians are listening to. What are the last 5 albums
that you’ve purchased?


SF:
Hmmm…let’s see. In no particular order:
Jesus Culture-“We Cry Out”
Switchfoot-“Hello Hurricane”
30 Seconds to Mars-“This is War”
The Raconteurs-“Consoler of the Lonely”
Incognito-“Tales from the Beach”




Big thanks to Sam for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions. If you live in the RDU area, you should make your way to The Summit Church on Friday Sept. 17th for the release show of “From Age to Age”. Click Here for more information.



The Original Diva

September 9, 2010 2 comments

I confess, I was watching VH1 last night. They were displaying the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. The list was chosen based off votes from around 200 musicians and “music experts”. We got to the Top 30 and at number 27 was the original diva, Aretha Franklin. I sat there and listened to the segment on Aretha and thought to myself, “Why don’t I own ANY of her music?” This morning it hit me that I needed to get some. What to get? I looked on a wiki page to see her discography only to be intimidated by the catalog. So I just decided to pick something. I chose “Aretha Franklin: Live at The Fillmore West”. I hit the jackpot! For a music lover, who just randomly picked an album, this is like winning the lottery. This is one of the best albums I have listened to.

The album kicks off with an introduction and then the band takes no time in getting it started. The first song of the set is “Respect” at about (no joke) 50bpm faster than the radio version. The event then transitions to a version of “Love The One You’re With” followed by “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. The show picks back up with “Eleanor Rigby” and it’s amazing. Later in the show Aretha does a reprise of “Spirit in the Dark’ with the one and only, Ray Charles.

This is a must have album. Check it out, then get it!

Aretha Franklin: Live at Fillmore West – iTunes


Aretha Franklin: Live at Fillmore West – Amazon MP3


Track List:
1. Respect
2. Love The One You’re With
3. Bridge Over Troubled Water
4. Eleanor Rigsby
5. Make It With You
6. Don’t Play That Song
7. Dr. Feelgood
8. Spirit In the Dark
9. Spirit In the Dark (Reprise with Ray Charles)
10. Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)

Upcoming Album Releases

September 8, 2010 3 comments





There are several albums being released this Fall that everyone should be excited about.

1. “Wake Up” John Legend and The Roots 9/21/10


“Hard Times”







2. “Come Around Sundown” Kings of Leon 10/19/10


“Radioactive”







What other albums are you looking forward to?

Categories: Uncategorized

Featured Musician: Josh Via

Musician: Josh Via

Website: joshviamusic.com

Twitter: joshvia

Life is Music (LiM): Tell us what you do for a living.

Josh Via (JV): In a nutshell I get to proclaim the Gospel through word and song and I get to help lead people to the throne of God through the median of musical worship.  I get to write songs to and about my great God.  And I get to travel to places both far and near to spread the great news that Jesus saves.

More specifically, I am connected to Journey Church here in Raleigh, NC as the worship pastor and an artist-in-residence.  Journey has been such a life-line for Tasha and me.  We began praying almost two years ago to find a church where we could serve regularly in a worship leading role, but where we also had the freedom to travel, leading worship for camps, conferences, churches, events, etc.—essentially being sent out from a home church.  And we found all of that and more in Journey Church.  Through some God-ordained circumstances, we moved from Charlotte to Raleigh back in October 2009 to make Journey our home.

We continue to travel about two weekends out of the month as Josh & Tasha Via Ministries, a non-profit ministry we founded almost 4 years ago.  And I say “we” a lot because it really is a team effort.  Tasha plays the violin along side me in most cases, and is very much both the beauty and the brains of this ministry.  She takes care of the bookings, accounting, and gives a ton a spiritual guidance and direction along the way. We came under the umbrella of my dad’s ministry, Rick Via World Reach Ministries, based out of Roanoke, VA to initially begin helping new church plants get their worship ministries off the ground.  Since then, the Lord has allowed us to continue to expand our ministry in various ways a little each year, and we’re incredibly grateful for that. (By the way, Tasha has a killer blog.  Check it out.)

LiM: List your gear. (you can also include what you use to record at home).

JV: Up until about 5 years ago, I was pretty much an acoustic guitar player solely.  But during my stint in Charlotte playing with a bunch of killer musicians, I branched out and began trying to hone in my skills a little better on the electric guitar as well.   The picture here is pretty much all the gear that I typically use on any given weekend.  My primary acoustic guitar is a Taylor 410-CE.  My electric is a Fender Telecaster (Nashville Tele).  My modest pedal board that sits on the PedalTrain Pro rack consists of 3 overdrives, Blues Driver Keeley mod, SD-1 Cheeseblocks mod, and Fulltone GT-500.  My two delays are the TC electronics Nova Delay that is great for live settings with 9 presets, and the Line 6 DL4.  I’ve also got the Electro-Harmonix Holy Stain reverb pedal and a little LPB-1 gain boost in front of the SD-1.  For my acoustic I’ve got the industry standard L.R. Baggs para-acoustic d.i. and in front of that I’ve got an Aphex Big Bottom that adds some nice crispness to the tone.  I’ve got everything running through the Boss Tuner and volume pedal and then into the Morley AB switcher box so that I can simply and easily use 1 tuner and 1 cable for both guitars.

My primary amp right now is a 1964 Fender Pro Reverb passed down to me from Tasha’s grandpa from Denver, CO about a year ago.  He had it in his closet for years and was recently moved to a nursing home and wanted me to have it.  With some TLC from Paul Gussler of Oldfield amps in Charlotte, this puppy is sounding really nice.  I’ve also got a Fender Blues Deluxe that I sometimes play, but recently we’ve been running Tasha’s violin through it, and it sounds great.  When she’s not playing through the amp, she also uses an L.R. Baggs d.i. along with a volume pedal and the new Cathedral reverb pedal by Electro-Harmonix that sounds really, really nice.

For demo recording at home, I’ve got a little Tascam 2488 that is all-the-time offered in Musician’s Friend mag.  I got it about 5 years ago with the package deal of speakers, mics, cables, etc. It’s been such a great tool for getting quick, great-sounding demos.  It was just a good move for me because I’m not very savvy with ProTools or any software-based recording systems. For me, I like the old-fashioned faders, knobs and switches, especially since I’m not trying to record my own albums … just demos.

LiM: Who would you consider to be some of your greatest musical/vocal influences?

JV: You know, as a kid, I guess I would say that I was pretty sheltered and naïve when it came to music…  Not because my Baptist parents were overly-strict or overbearing.  Not at all.  I guess I just naturally gravitated toward the type of music that they listened to in our home.  So, I grew up on guys like Keith Green, Larry Norman, Matthew Ward and the Second Chapter of Acts, Lenny LeBlanc, Randy Stonehill and all those dudes that got saved out of the Jesus Movement.  Since my mom and dad were essentially saved during that era as well, that’s what filled our home most days.  I can remember my dad getting a new worship cassette tape in the mail every month from Maranatha! Music and that’s the kind of stuff that permeated our home.  Maybe that’s how I ended up in worship music.  Who knows.  Later in college, I picked up other interests and was drawn heavily to the indie rock scene, especially emo—bands like Brandtson, The Appleseed Cast, Cool Hand Luke, Elliot and others.  In the last 5 years bands and artists like Wilco, Pete Yorn, Sufjan Stevens and others have peppered my tastes a good bit and perhaps have helped to shape, in some minute way, my creative thinking.

LiM: Tell us about the “All That Glitters” album that was released last year.

JV: ATG was a concept that my dad had for a while as a tool to help get the Gospel into people’s hands that would be non-threatening and hopefully not end up in a trashcan somewhere like most Gospel tracts and pamphlets.  I’d like to think that it’s a pretty unique and unorthodox (not a theological reference) way of getting the Gospel to people.  The CD includes 6 song tracks and 7 spoken word tracts all weaved and intertwined together so that it takes the listener on a bit of a journey—hopefully toward a relationship with Christ.  My dad, who is a gifted preacher/teacher and passionate about helping people come to faith in Christ, did all of the spoken word tracks while I was responsible for the musical side of things.  You can check out allthatglitterscd.com for more information.

LiM: You also just released “The First, The Last” this past April. What is the concept behind this album?

JV: Honestly, there really was no great deal of thinking or over-araching concept or goal involved in this album.  Basically, when we set out to record the 6 tracks for ATG last summer, we got in the studio and realized we had enough material for a full-length album. So, we initially tracked 8 tunes for ATG and chose 6 for that project.  Then tracked 4 more over the next few months to top off the record.  Thematically, salvation/redemption is a big idea since half the songs were on ATG, an evangelistic project at its core.  And then, the others we chose just seemed to fit pretty well with that one big idea.  I’ve always loved “When God Ran” since I was a kid and initially wanted it to be on ATG, but cut it later on for lack of coherence with the rest of the project.  Then brought it back for TFTL.  “People of the Light” was a last-minute addition, but one that I’ve received the most positive feedback from.  It’s just me and Tasha and Scott Spruill on light keys and textures.  I wrote it just days before the final mixes were completed as God had been dealing with my own heart about growing a backbone and making a fresh stand for Christ.  I’m thankful it made the album in time.

LiM: “The First, The Last” has a good combination of hymns and original songs. Where do you find the inspiration to write your original songs?

JV: It sounds trite and unoriginal, but honestly it mostly comes through my early morning times with Jesus in His Word.  That’s primarily where I receive the most inspiration for tunes.  Other times, it comes through hanging out with other writers who are passionate followers of Christ and who seem to always have a new song in their heart.  My buddy, Andy Cherry, from Charlotte is one of those guys.  He’s phenomenally gifted and the Lord is using him in a big way in that area.

LiM: I like the arrangements on “The First, The Last”. Do you arrange your songs, or do you get help from others? (If other people help you out, here’s your chance to give some shout outs).

JV: Once again, I have to give a lot of credit to Andy.  He’s an amazing arranger.  He just hears that stuff in his head that other people can’t hear.  And in all honestly, all the dudes on this record (Scott Spruill, Tim Morrison, and Stuart Clark) helped tremendously with great ideas for the arrangements.  Most of the time I would come to a rehearsal with a pretty good idea of how I wanted it to sound, and many times they bought in right away.  Other times, they would suggest another route and I would like that better.  (A perfect example is the album title track “The First, The Last” – Originally I wrote it in 6/8 time with a bunch of convoluted lyrics and some dumb melodies that included a completely unnecessary Flat 7.  The guys looked at me like, “Seriously?!” And about an hour later, we had the framework for the updated and much better edition of the “The First, the Last.”) TFTL was definitely a collaborative effort, for sure.

LiM: What are the last 5 albums that you have listened to?

JV:

Thad Cockrell – “To Be Loved”

Johann Johannsson – “Fordlandia”

Jonsi and Alex – “Riceboy Sleeps”

Paper Tongues – self-titled

Phil Joel – “Deliberate Kids” (Ha! I’m a dad!)

LiM: As a musician, what do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?

JV: I’d love to continue writing, creating and recording with the hopes of taking more baby steps toward becoming a better artist, writer, musician, worship leader and toward making better records.  I’ve said before that “getting signed” has never been my goal.  And that’s the truth.  I could care less about notoriety or recognition. But, I would be lying if I said that it never crosses my mind, especially in the sense that I would love to think that maybe God might see fit to one day give our music a wider audience with which to both reach people with the Gospel and to encourage and edify His people in local communities of believers.

LiM: You have a wife that plays the violin and three children, any chance there will be a Josh Via Family Band in the future?

JV: That’s without question.  I’ve already mentioned a little bit about Tasha. She is vitally connected to our music ministry.  I can honestly say I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without her.  Areyna, our oldest and only daughter (so far), just turned five.  She is showing a lot of interest in singing, in piano, and in violin, although her primary insterest at this point involves dresses and make-up! Ezekiel, our 4-year-old son, has music flowing through his veins.  He of course gravitates toward guitar, but shows an interest (and that’s an understatement) in any and every instrument he finds.  He has the best vocal pitch of any 4-year-old I’ve ever met, and is constantly studying what happens on stage at our rehearsals.  He then comes home and mimicks everything he just saw.  His memory for music is impeccable—all the way from melodies, to lyrics, to … you name it.  I guess I’m a little biased, but it’s true.  Micaiah just turned 10 months and it’s still too early to tell, but I can almost guarantee music is in his blood.  So … yes, the Josh Via Family Band is very much in the works!

Thanks to Josh for taking a lot of time into putting these responses together. Go out and buy “The First, The Last”. It’s available on both iTunes and AmazonMP3 .

Arcade Fire “Month of May” and “The Suburbs”

May 27, 2010 2 comments

Finally! Arcade Fire have now presented the world with two new singles, “Month of May” and “The Suburbs”. Rumors are saying that the LP should come out this summer. UPDATE! Arcade Fire has announced their new album “The Suburbs” will be released in the US on August 3rd.
Below are the singles. Take a listen and enjoy.



“The Suburbs”





“Month of May”

Featured Musician: Mike Passaro

May 11, 2010 2 comments







Webiste:  http://www.mikepassaro.com/

Twitter: mikepassaro



Life is Music (LiM): What Instruments do you play?

Mike Passaro (MP): Acoustic guitar, rhythm electric, and drums.




LiM: List Your Gear.


MP: In drum world, I play a 4 pieceTaye TourPro birch kit. I use a standard 22×18 kick with a 10×8.5 rack tom and a 16×16 tom on the bottom. I go back and forth on snare between a Taye Stainless 14×5 and the TourPro birch 14×6.5 drum. I also have a 8×8 rack tom that I use for small sets or small rooms. Sometimes I’ll convert the 16×16 into a bass drum and use the 8×8 and 10×8.5 for a tighter sound…


I’m playing a 21″ K Constantinople Big Band Ride, 18″ 2002 Paiste Crash, 16″ Zildjian K Dark Custom Crash, and 14″ K Constantinople hats.


In acoustic guitar world, my primary guitars are a Gibson J45 and a Breadlove Focus (both have lr baggs pickups) played through my Avalon U5 preamp. I also have a Takamine EAN10c and a Guild D25.


Electric world is newer to me, but I play either an American Tele (thanks James) or Epiphone Sheraton II w/Bigsby through a Fender Blues Jr. My pedal board is a work in progress (props to PedalTrain). My current signal chain is MXR Custom Comp, Fulldrive, VP jr, DD-20, Danelectro Tremolo, to the MXR Carbon Copy.




LiM: So you play drums and guitar…which would you consider to be your strength? Why?


MP: I actually think both instruments are connected more than people think. They are both rhythm, deep pocket type instruments. You can create groove with both. You can push dynamics and mood with both. So, I’m either good at both or should find a different craft!




LiM: What do you consider to be your weaknesses as a musician?


MP: Thinking melodically. I’ve spent almost all of my musical life thinking in terms of rhythms and feel. mood. groove. I could listen to four minutes of steady pocket drumming, so that causes me to spend less time on melody, hook lines, and vocals…




LiM: How did you get involved with music?


MP: Music got involved with me. My dad was a musician in his earlier days (went to Nashville and made a record). He also had 5 kids (I’m number 2). Lots of instruments around the house, and lots of curious minds and fingers makes for a musical childhood…




LiM: Who would you consider to be your musical influences?


MP: Geeze. No one wins with this question. I leave things out. You only get a short list. Early musical life: classic rock (Zeppelin, Boston, Eagles, Journey, Queen, Beatles). Recent: Steve Smith, Joel Cameron, Steve Jordan, Jeremy Lutito, Chris McHue, MATT CHAMBERLAIN.




LiM: Tell us the last 10 albums you’ve purchased?


MP:

Andrew Peterson // “Resurrection Letters Vol. 2”

Derek Webb // “Stockholm Syndrome”

John Mayer // “Battle Studies”

Carrie Underwood // “Play On”

Keith Urban // “Defying Gravity”

Jeremy Riddle // “Full Attention”

Landon Pigg // “the Boy who Never”

Needtobreathe // “The Outsiders”

Patty Griffin // “Downtown Church”

Robbie Seay Band // “Miracle”





LiM: Describe one of your most memorable moments as a musician?


MP: I have so many great moments. Playing overseas, playing live shows with great people. I’m so grateful for all the opportunities! Favorites for me, though, are about firsts. (one of) My favorite live moment was probably my first Shelly Moore Band show. We had booked a show at the Vineyard Cafe in Raleigh, had some songs, but never really knew if anyone was actually going to show up. The place was packed. Three sets. Standing room only.


My favorite studio moment was making the first Shelly Moore Band record. It’s hard to explain how exciting it is to hear musical ideas take on life and energy.




LiM: What recording projects have you been a part of in the past?

MP:
Beloved // Live Worship Record 2003 // acoustic guitar

SMB // Self-titled 2004 // acoustic guitar, perc

Life is Precious // SMB had a cut on the compliation 2006 // acoustic guitar

Hope & Decay // SMB studio project #2 2007 // acoustic guitar, engineer

a Hymn Project // SMB hymns 2008 // acoustic & electric guitars, bgvs, co-producer, engineer

Jess  Ray // Jess Ray And The Rag Tag Army 2009 // producer, acoustic guitars, programming, engineer, arranging

On the Incarnation // Daniel Renstrom // drums, acoustic guitars, arranging

LiM: Do you have any recording projects in the works?

MP: We’re in pre-production on:
Daniel Renstrom record (possibly “on the resurrection”)
SMB studio record #3
SMB hymn project vol. 2








A special thanks to Mike for taking the time out of his busy schedule to do this interview.