Am I The Midwest?

Hello Emerson is a rising band from right here in Columbus, Ohio.  Kish and I have had the chance to see them perform several times, and they’re great.

They have a new song out called “Am I The Midwest?”  I’ve linked the YouTube video for the song above.  If you’re a born and bred Midwesterner — even if you’ve since moved away — I bet the song will strum some mystic chords of memory for you.  It’s a great song that really captures a living, breathing piece of this part of America that so many of us call home.

Hat tip to the GV Jogger and Dr. Science, whose son Jack plays keyboards for Hello Emerson.

Future Stars

Last night we joined friends at The Art of Jazz fundraiser for the Jazz Arts Group at the Columbus Museum of Art. It was a terrific affair that featured performances by the Columbus Youth Jazz All-Stars, who played a mix of jazz classics and some impressive original compositions by the young performers in the band, and a closing concert by with Byron Stripling, the Artistic Director of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, engaging vocalist Niki Harris, and Bobby Floyd, Andy Woodson, and Jim Rupp.

The music was great, from beginning to end, but the segment that really blew me away featured two of young men from the Fort Hayes high school, Jaxon Dixon and Jack Thompson, getting up on stage to play with the pros and showing great poise and awesome talent as they performed. They fit right in, and their contribution to a memorable evening was a great way to illustrate the value of the educational and youth outreach programs of the Jazz Arts Group.

I love jazz, and it’s great to see that it’s alive and well and in the hearts of young people who will carry the jazz torch forward.

Instant Recall

Let’s say that Key to the Highway by Derek and the Dominos is one of your favorite songs, as it is one of mine.  How long would it take you to hear the first few notes and recognize that it’s being played on the radio?

According to some recent research, the answer is exactly 0.1 to 0.3 seconds.  That’s virtually instantaneous.

anim_homepageThe research focused on pupil dilation and certain brain activity that was triggered by hearing a favorite, familiar song and compared it to the reaction to listening to unfamiliar tunes. The study determined that hearing even a fraction of a second of a favorite song caused pupil dilation and brain activity related to memory retrieval — which would then cause you to immediately remember every note and every lyric.  One of the researchers noted that “[t]hese findings point to very fast temporal circuitry and are consistent with the deep hold that highly familiar pieces of music have on our memory.”

Why do researchers care about the brain’s reaction to familiar music?  Because the deeply engrained neural pathways that are associated with music might be a way to reach, and ultimately treat, dementia patients who are losing other forms of brain function.

The human brain is a pretty amazing thing, and its immediate recall of music is one compelling aspect of its functioning.  But here’s the thing the researchers didn’t consider:  immediate recall isn’t limited to favorite music.  In fact, it’s provoked by familiar music, whether it’s a tune you’d happily binge listen to or whether its a piece of music that you wish you could carve out of your synapses.  If I mention the Green Acres theme song, and you then think of the first few guitar notes for that song, I guarantee that every bit of the song will promptly come to mind, whether you want it to or not.  (Sorry about that!)  And isn’t it a bit disturbing to think that, if you eventually lose your marbles some day far in the future, one of the last things to go will be the tale of the Douglases and their “land, spreading out so far and wide”?

Concerto For Oboe In C Major

My post about Julianne’s performance of Gabriel’s Oboe got an incredibly strong positive reaction, and several readers have asked if there are other available videos of her artistry.  Yesterday another portion of her recent performance with the Austin Youth Orchestra was posted on YouTube.  This video shows Julianne and the AYO performing  Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Oboe in C Major.  It’s another terrific and impressive performance by Julianne.  This time, she tackles a longer, classic piece by one of the great baroque composers that features the kind of intricate structure that is typically found in baroque music.  It’s another beautiful piece of work by Julianne and the AYO, who obviously enjoy performing together.

It’s nice to know that oboe performances have struck a chord — pun intended — with Webner House readers!

Gabriel’s Oboe

Our daughter-in-law, Julianne, was the featured soloist on this performance of Gabriel’s Oboe with the Austin Youth Orchestra on October 20.  I’ve never heard that piece of music before, but it is beautiful — and very beautifully played in this performance.  If you’ve never heard the piece, or even if you have, this version is well worth a click and a listen.

Congratulations, Julianne, for your talent and your hard work!  You deserved that standing ovation!

BOOM

Yesterday we drove over to the Brooklin Inn to listen to a performance by BOOM — the Baroque Orchestra of Maine.

480Heidi Powell, on baroque violin, and Max Treitler, on baroque cello, performed two sonatas by Georg Freidrich Handel and two familiar pieces by Archangelo Corelli, and Ms. Powell also performed a beautiful solo piece, the Passacaglia in G minor for solo violin by Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, that I had never heard before.  The concert took place in one of the central rooms of the Brooklin Inn with an audience of about 40 people — the kind of intimate, up close and personal setting that was the normal performance venue when baroque music was the prevailing music of the day back in the early 1700s.  It was a wonderful performance of my favorite genre of classical music, which Ms. Powell and Mr. Treitler made even better by providing some interesting commentary to introduce each piece, talking about the differences between baroque instruments and their modern counterparts — and even answering a question from the audience.  I should add that, after the BOOM performance, we had a very fine dinner thanks to the Brooklin Inn kitchen.

It’s pretty cool that this part of Maine has its own baroque orchestra — but then again this area is full of surprises and interesting things to discover, and there are lot of people out there who have a passion for classical music generally and baroque music in particular.  When I thanked Ms. Powell after her performance and asked whether there was a BOOM website where we could make a contribution toward future performances, she said there wasn’t one, but we could send an old-fashioned letter and she’d let us know about future performances via postcards.  It’s an example of the kind of old-school, off-the-grid approach to the modern world that you often find in this area — well-suited to a group that performs vintage music with authentic instruments.

Death Bands

The recent passing of Ginger Baker, the brilliant drummer for Cream and Blind Faith, made me think that, if there’s a rock ‘n roll afterlife, somebody’s band just had a great addition to its rhythm section.  And that thought, in turn, made me think:  okay, this is morbid and probably insensitive to boot, but if you were to assemble a dream band out of dead rockers, who would be the members?

depositphotos_5334627-stock-photo-rock-n-roll-is-deadThis isn’t a novel concept.  Back in the ’70s the Righteous Brothers recorded a song about dead musicians called Rock and Roll Heaven that had artists like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Bobby Darin, and Jim Croce putting on a big show in the Great Beyond.  (And now that I’ve mentioned the song, those of us old enough to remember it will have a hard time getting it out of our heads.)  But there’s a big difference between putting on a single show featuring disparate artists and assembling a functioning band.  You’ve got to factor in styles, for example.  How would Jim Morrison mesh with, say, Kurt Cobain?

I think I’d go with John Lennon, George Harrison, and Chuck Berry on guitars, with Ginger Baker on drums and John Entwistle of the Who on bass, for a band that could really play some classic, old school early rock ‘n roll.  But you also have to wonder about what kind of interesting music could be produced if you put together combinations like Hendrix, Morrison, and Keith Moon of the Who, or Elvis Presley, Cobain, Glenn Frey, John Bonham, and Clarence Clemons, or Prince, Leon Russell, and David Bowie.  With more and more old rockers passing on with each new year, unfortunately, there’s a lot of choices.