The Band and Unique Instrumentation

The Band was one of the most complete musical groups ever assembled. They had three different vocalists, all with unique singing styles – Richard Manuel brought the soul, Rick Danko brought the folk, and Levon Helm brought the country. Robbie Robertson was an elite guitarist, as well as one of rock and roll’s premiere songwriters. But the unsung hero of The Band was Garth Hudson: a utility player in the world of music. Similar to how Magic Johnson could play any position on a basketball court, Hudson could master any instrument you chucked at him, and this versatility was showcased throughout The Band’s entire discography. The fact that all of these masterful musicians were coalesced into a single group is mind-boggling. The group’s name said it all: they were the Band, not just another group, and today, I’m going to pick out some songs by The Band that feature some notably unique instrumentation by typical rock and roll standards, most of which were played by Garth Hudson.

Organ: Chest Fever

Starting with The Band’s debut record, Music from Big Pink, I decided to pick “Chest Fever” to represent Hudson’s mastery of the organ. Garth Hudson provided some of the most memorable organ sections in rock and roll history, with the aptly named Keyboard magazine calling him “the most brilliant organist in the rock world.” No track by The Band exhibits this any better than “Chest Fever,” a five minute acid rock-folk-psychedelic jam that features some ear-piercing organ sections – and I mean that in the best way possible. As soon as the song starts, Hudson hits you with a quick improvisation piece before providing the song’s main organ riff, and the organ solo at about the 3 minute mark is something that simply needs to be heard. Honestly, I think this song would be sweet for a closing pitcher to enter a game to. MLB pitchers, if you happen to be reading this, make it happen!

Clavinet: Up on Cripple Creek

Some of you may be wondering: what the hell is a clavinet? Well, it’s the instrument that lends the trademark “boing-wah-wah” sound to funk music. It’s hard to describe, but if you heard it, you’d recognize it in an instant. And this instrument is featured on “Up on Cripple Creek,” from The Band’s eponymous album. It’s really cool to hear this sound in a rock tune instead of the typical funk scenario, and, as I understand, Hudson’s clavinet in this song is actually one of the first occurrences of the instrument in a modern song: pretty cool! And, since this is one of The Band’s biggest hits, I’m sure some of you have heard this track already. If not, I implore that you give it a listen because it’s truly a magnificent song.

Accordion: When I Paint My Masterpiece

This tune, originally written by Bob Dylan, was featured on The Band’s album Cahoots. The accordion, when played properly, is one of those instruments that can just bring a smile to someone’s face. And having Hudson’s accordion paired with Levon Helm’s incomparable voice, this is truly a gorgeous track. The accordion is quite dynamic in this song: ranging from being featured front and center to subtle pieces in the background. I don’t really know how to describe it, but this song has a magical quality to it. That’s just the effect The Band’s songs can have on people, I suppose.

Saxophone: The Unfaithful Servant

The horns featured in this song are just a subtle touch that could’ve been an afterthought. But, the addition of the sax in this song elevates this song from simple folk to a tour-de-force of musicianship. Rick Danko’s voice in this song carries such emotional weight, and the saxophone kicking in in the second verse really heightens the sadness of the song. I would go as far to say that this song features Danko’s best vocal performance, and the instrumentals kick it up a notch to make this one of The Band’s most memorable songs.

Synthesizers: Jupiter Hollow

From 1975’s Northern Lights – Southern Cross, next up we have “Jupiter Hollow,” an underrated track, in my opinion. I don’t even know how to categorize this song – space-funk-folk, maybe? Genre classifications notwithstanding, this song features some epic synthesizer work, an instrument previously unused by The Band. Hudson’s synth touches provide a certain tranquil nature to the song. I would liken it to aquarium music: music that induces a sense of peacefulness and contentment to the listener, but while aquarium music is largely ignorable, this song keeps varying it’s background touches, providing a very dynamic song. This also provides a sense of curiosity to the song. “Jupiter Hollow” is a weird track, but I love every second of it. Also, some dude on Youtube interpreted the lyrics as relating to Game of Thrones. Pretty cool, even if the song was released over 20 years before George R. R. Martin’s first book in the series.

There are so many more notable tracks by The Band that feature unique instrumentation: Rick Danko’s fiddle in “Rag Mama Rag,” Garth Hudson’s Rocksichord on “This Wheel’s On Fire,” the lovely violin in “Acadian Driftwood,” the list goes on. I just thought I’d share a few that I found interesting and that I think provide some insight into why I think The Band was one of the greatest musical acts of all time. Thanks so much for reading, and check out our other articles, as well as our weekly playlist!

Who is the best rapper in the Migos?

The group as a whole is amazing, one of the best rap groups we’ve ever known. Each of the three members have their own level of talent and skill but together they make gifts to your iTunes like Culture. However, today I’m talking about individual members and who is the best of the three. A question I’ve had trouble with in the past and look forward to settling.

Continue reading “Who is the best rapper in the Migos?”

Shiro of Voltron and Capitalism

So the wife and I just finished season three of Netflix’s Volrton: Legendary Defender and it took us forever after blowing through the first two seasons. I love the show so much because of the willingness to not just remake the original Lion Force anime or even the 1980’s American dub which I was all about in elementary school, serious I would scarf down dinner so fast just so I could be off the table and into the living room before the opening title. The brilliance of the Netflix series was the taking of story threads and changing and evolving them into new surprises for a whole new show.

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This is gonna get spoiler for anyone who has not watched any of the Netflix series yet so turn back now if you don’t wanna know stuff…………………….. still here? Cool.

So anyway, Pidge on the new series is actually a girl, she’s looking for her father and brother. Completely changing the sex of an original series character is cool to me. It came as a surprise that I didn’t see coming until the started planting pretty evident seeds that Pidge was not what he/she seemed. It was fun. The series also invited a new character named Shiro who would end up piloting the Black Lion. He has a badass Spartacus vibe about him. He’s a thoughtful and developed warrior. His death has been the season cliffhanger for the first two seasons which was a little annoying, well he disappeared and the end of season 2, not dead just gone. This was fine and the heroes journey of storytelling and all that. However, what got me was it was now leading the show into the territory of the original 80’s cartoon. Keith was piloted the Red Lion in the new series had to take over and become the leader. This is only bad because that was the exact way it was in the original. This move led to Princess Allura joining the Paladins to pilot the Blue Lion. She had massive growth as a character from the original series to the new one. She had become a general of sorts commanding the overall team in this modern version. She was her own woman. Nope, lets stick her in the Blue Lion just like in the 80’s. I got bored. Our progress through season 3 stalled for months. Even though Shiro was found alive, he was now performing the Allura duty of generally commanding the force and not piloting a Lion.

I think this situation speaks to my own personal taste of loving cover songs when a new band takes on a well played songs and then totally twists it up to be unique. If you are gonna cover someone else’s hit, make damn sure you make it your own and don’t just be a tribute band to the original. I feel the same way about this show.

Then I saw a GIF of Shiro in the Black Lion and he’s telling it to trust him again. Well Hell, now I’m back on board and finished season 3 this morning over coffee. I just read an article where the series creators said they were forced to bring Shiro back way sooner then they wanted to because the executives demanded it. They had toys to sell and the Shiro Black Lion combo was apparently a big seller. Thanks for something capitalism, and thank you for reading this blog. Happy Saturday!

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The Birds are Not the Only Thing Returning Down to Florida This Year.

It is that time of year when the leaves change color, the weather begins to drop, and for some, the birds are a lot less in presence. This is the time of year the birds begin to fly down south in search  of warmer weather, something many Floridans are use to by now. However, as many of them did not expect, something else has comeback and swept the nation. This comeback has excited the nation and has made college football  more exciting. I am of course referring to the resurgence of the Miami University, or more popularly known as the U.

I noticed this return after their appearance in the 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl versus the #14 West Virginia University Mountaineers. They did not blow them out of the water by any means (31-14), but his win capped off their 9-4 season. The Hurricanes have now been on a fourteen game win streak since their last loss to Notre Dame in an extremely close game. Both teams are known as national power houses, but lately a slip as been extremely noticeable.

The Hurricanes have started this season at 9-0, including the complete an utter ass whipping they handed Notre Dame (41-8). Not going to lie I was excited to watch that game because it seems that both teams had returned to the classic “Catholic Versus Convicts”, but his is has enabled me too say something I have been wanting to say forever, THE U IS BACK! This season has easily been an exciting one for the Canes as the took down their rivals the Florida State Seminoles for the first time in seven years. It gave life to the fans and alumni down in Miami, including one of the founding fathers and greats of the U, Michael Irwin.

The thing that is most admirable about the Canes is the swag they play with and that are coming out to beat your ass and not caring who you are. This swagger and attitude is most recently shown with the new tradition whenever the defense forces a turnover. The Canes break out this huge chain with the huge Miami “U”. This is not the biggest trademark of their swag, however. This was whenever the Hurricanes adopted to storied U back in 1973, and truly represented what the Canes are about.

The Hurricanes would be involved in some of the most notable games in college football history. My favorite one as previously stated was the “Catholic Versus Convicts” game. They did this because the Hurricanes often recruit in their own crime filled backyard. The snobby assholes up in South Bend at Notre Dame coined the term poking fun at the Canes. In the end the Canes would fall 31-30 to Notre Dame in possibly the greatest game of all time. Another classic showdown the Canes were involved in was their showdown with Oklahoma University in 1986 and 1985. This classic show down involved the team with the most attitude and the player who had the most attitude (Brian Bosworth). The Canes would go onto to win this game 28-16 and 27-14. Below are highlights of the games.

Their constant battles with their rivals, which I believe is the second best rivalry in football, at Florida State is very rich and filled with exciting games. My favorites are probably the “Wide Left” games (there are four of them. Miami currently leads the series in a very narrow, 32-30 margin.

The Hurricanes are most definitely one of the biggest professional football factory of all time. They have even put together the greatest team of all of time, in my opinion, in 2002, which included the likes of Sean Taylor, Willis McGahee, Jonathan Vilma Antrel Rolle, Frank Gore, Kellen Winslow, and Ken Dorsey. The Canes have sent 293 players to the pros including the likes of Hall of Famers Vinny Testaverde, Bernie Kosar, Jim Kelly, Clinton Portis Edgerrin James, Michael Irvin, Jim Otto,Ted Hendricks*, Ray Lewis, Sean Taylor, and Ed Reed.

The U is back and so the swag in Florida. The season is winding down and with the December 2nd showdown with Clemson on the horizon, we may see a new game to add to the many of the Canes classics. So until next time, keep those Turnover Chains swinging and stay tuned for more fresh content from me and the Mid America crew.

 

This EA-Star Wars Thing Isn’t Working Out

Electronic Arts.

When you hear that name, what comes to mind? It should evoke feelings of grace, of pride, and of artistry. However, to most gamers today, it evokes feelings of anger, disappointment, and anxiety of one’s wallet. Time after time, EA has screwed up multiple games that sounded fun on paper. This is seen most prominently in their treatment of Star Wars games, as two recent examples are fresh in gamers’ minds. Continue reading “This EA-Star Wars Thing Isn’t Working Out”

Top Five Mario Games

In honor of the recent release of Super Mario Odyssey (which I CANNOT WAIT to play!), I decided to count down my top 5 favorite Mario games. And by Mario games, I’m referring to main series games – not spinoffs like Mario Kart or Smash Bros. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

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