This is my princess, Aurora Skye. We call her Rory.
Rory turned 6 on Sunday. I think. Honestly, sometimes I’m not sure how old she actually is. I frequently say she is going on 16. You decide.
Rory is a lover of all things musical. She can name all 10 members of Straight No Chaser by sight, and many by voice (#TinyChaser). She treasures her autographed Sonos CD and poster. She loves the House Jacks (see previous post regarding the House Balls), but since all the shows local to us seem to happen in a bar in Berkeley, we haven’t been to see them live yet.
Rory’s musical love is not limited to a cappella, although she hears a lot of that. Some of her favorite songs are Firework (there’s a video of her performing this song at age 5, below), Moves Like Jagger, and All the Single Ladies, with choreography. She can also identify Sweet Home Alabama in 8 notes.
So, we are big fans of The Big Bang Theory in our house. It is not unusual for us to watch an episode every day. Last Friday night the kidlets and I watched the one where Sheldon trains Penny with chocolate. Here’s a link to short clip, if you’ve never seen it.
The show ended around 9:00 pm, which is past normal bedtime. Rory disappeared into the kitchen, which she typically does to get herself some water before bed, but then came over to the couch where I was reading. Then this happened:
Rory: Mommy, since it’s my birthday weekend, can I stay up and watch whatever I want?
Me: Sure, sweetie.
Rory, holding out her hand: Have a marshmallow.
To see more funny things my kidlets have said, check out their Twitter @ourkidsarenuts.
Sidenote: Holy crap, I had no idea that video had over 800 views. That’s hilarious.
While in the car the other day, I started messing with my iPod to put some music on, and my 5-year old daughter Rory announced:
I think it would be great if the House Jacks and Ball in the House would sing together. They could be the House Balls!
I promptly tweeted, and this happened. If you don’t read Twitter, that’s too bad.
You a cappella people are out of control.
Certainly Friday alone was worth the cost of the entire festival, but then came Saturday.
I. Was. Not. Ready.
Mostly I wasn’t ready because of too much Friday night afterparty, but then again, it could have been being on the east coast while still on west coast time. Yeah, that’s why the first thing I made it to was lunch.
VIP Lunch with the Pros
I had no idea what to expect, but the email told me when and where to be to meet the groups that would be in the professional showcase, so I showed up. And so did they.
The food was yummy, and I ended up sitting at a table with two other VIPs, a CASA Board member, and group members from Redline and Traces, listening to them talk shop. Redline is a CAL group from Boston who won a couple of CARA Awards on Friday. Traces is a FANTABULOUS quintet of women from NYC who I can’t wait to tell you more about. I mean, WOW. And I will add, very gracious and sincere and humble and passionate women, at that.
And then someone announced, “Cadence is here!” That’s right. The very first group I featured in “First Listen Friday.” Live. In Person. In the same room as me. GAH. I didn’t get to meet or chat with them at the time, but no worries. Wait till Because of SATURDAY, Part 2. <grin>
The first workshop I attended was “Stage Presence” with Cadence. In the front row, of course, because that’s the kind of aca-groupie I am. I didn’t absorb a lot of the content of this workshop because (1) I am not a singer in a singing group, and (B) I was basking in the greatness that is Cadence just two feet away from me. Did I say GAH?
I will say, however, that there were many times I heard what Cadence said and thought to myself, “Yep. Straight No Chaser does that right, too.” Sorry I’m not sorry. I’m a Chaser at heart.
I also attended Benjamin Stevens’ “Essential Listening” and just kind of sat there in awe. I think I’ll have to attend that one again at SoJam or a future BOSS to be able to put into words all the thoughts that ran through my head. Recommended.
Acabombs are performances that happened between workshops by pre-selected groups. More a cappella goodness, as if there weren’t enough already. I didn’t get to see all five, but here are two I saw in their entirety and loved.
So, at first I thought it was Overboard singing because I recognized some of the members, but I was quickly corrected. At the time the following video was being recorded, I was standing 5 feet away tweeting, “Them’s some fine boys who can sing.” You’ll see what I mean.
There’s another video of this song on YouTube, but I really think the acabomb version has a little something extra. And then there’s the brand-spanking new single on iTunes with an even different take (mixed by James Cannon) that you can buy here that has some fabulous #basslove going on.
Members: Alfredo Austin, Jeff Eames, Dustin Hyatt, Mark Joseph, Beejul Khatri, Caleb Whelden
One word: BOSS-stache. What? You need more reason to love this group? Well, okay, here you go. They sang this one:
I also very much enjoyed their performance of “Boondocks” with soloing by Mickey (far right) and Nick (2nd from left) when put on the spot in Cadence’s “Stage Presence” workshop:
Best of all, they’re just really fun to hang out with. Buy their latest single, “21 Guns,” on iTunes here and #getcutoff.
Members: Logan Good, Mickey Hamilton, Nick Hunter, Katelyn Marasco, Nicole Milano, Taylor Moore, Jenna Owens, David Porter, Deanna Spiotta, Leanne Swaciak, Ricky Thomas, Matthew Zager*
Nope. You don’t get to hear about this until Part 2. I can’t wait to tell you all about it. And the afterparty of BOSS-staches. Stay tuned!
Okay, before I tell you about Saturday, watch this. “Titanium” that we all raved about happens at 3:30, but the whole set is great.
As many of you already know who follow me on the Twitter (@LovedeAcapella), I attended Boston Sings A Cappella Festival (BOSS) produced by CASA (Contemporary A cappella Society). Two weeks later, I still have an a cappella hangover.
I will start by telling you that I went not knowing anyone, other than via Twitter or other social media, and I came away with a multitude of new acquaintances, friends, and aca-crushes. So, if you’re considering attending an a cappella festival, being by yourself and not knowing anyone is no excuse. If I can do it, anyone can.
I was blessed to have a BOSS VIP Pass and was constantly surrounded by good people, good music, and good fun, and was frequently overwhelmed (in a happy way) to the point of tears.
So much happened, I thought I would break my report up by days. It was truly the experience of a lifetime for this a cappella fan.
I actually arrived in a very rainy Boston on Thursday, April 12, around 2:30 pm local time. My cousins Jeff and Kelly picked me up, and we did a quick driving tour of the high points of Boston (Bunker Hill, Fenway, places Jeff and Kelly have lived and worked, etc.). Even though I am a huge early American history buff, there was really only one thing I specifically wanted to see while in Boston:
After a quick pub stop for nourishment and libations, we headed out to my aunt and uncle’s in Old Lyme, Connecticut for the night.
I awoke to a bright and beautiful Friday morning on the Connecticut coast. I took a stroll on the private beach and could even see Long Island eight miles out across the water! After breakfast and much needed coffee, Jeff drove me to my hotel in Boston so I could get ready for the big evening.
5:00 pm: CARA Reception
The reception took place at the Foundry on Elm and was supposed to be drinks and conversation with the other VIPs, CARA (Contemporary A cappella Recording Awards) nominees, CASA Board members, festival performers, and general “aca-royalty.” In reality, it was a continuous fangirl hour of me saying, “Hi, I’m Christine. I follow you on Twitter.”
7:30 pm: CARA Red Carpet & Live Awards / Collegiate Competition
Did I already say “aca-royalty?” You can see a ton of red carpet photos taken by Michael Eldredge here, and you’ll see what I mean. Huge thanks to Jim Diego of the Red States for rescuing me so I didn’t have to take my red carpet photo or sit alone.
The CARA Awards were interspersed with collegiate performances by University of Chicago Voices in Your Head, Northeastern University Nor’easters, Ithacappella (Ithaca College), University of Chicago Men in Drag, MIT Logarhythms, and University of Oregon Mind the Gap. Michael Eldredge’s photos for the Friday night festivities are here.
Voices in Your Head came out on top. Holy “Titanium,” Batman. I am sure when the video of “Titanium” (opb. David Guetta feat. Sia) posts after ICCAs, it will not do justice to the live performance. Sound and choreo FTW! In the meantime, here’s another video from Voices In Your Head, “Resistance” opb Muse:
I also highly recommend looking up the other collegiate groups on YouTube. It was an all-around stellar show.
While the judges were deliberating the collegiate competition, the handsome hosts and fabulously funny gentlemen who are Boston-based Ball in the House entertained us. If you’re not already a BitH fan, you need to be. My 8-year old son was very excited to hear they sang an impromptu “Cupid Shuffle” and insists they come up with an a cappella “Cha-Cha Slide” next. Chasers will notice some familiar songs in their repertoire, like this fantastic cover:
In case you were curious, here’s the list of 2012 CARA winners.
There was an afterparty that I won’t say too much about other than that I ended up at a table with Amy Malkoff and Bill Hare. #beep
What a way to start the weekend, right?! Wait till you hear about Saturday and Sunday…
My hubby is more than tolerant of my a cappella obsession. He was the first to encourage me to create an a cappella blog, and he even spent New Year’s Eve at a Straight No Chaser show with me amidst a dozen or so of my Chaser buddies. He is also a total Duranie. So, when he asked me to post some Duran Duran a cappella, how could I say no?
GFS A Cappella (Germantown Friends School) “Rio”
This is a high school group with several 2012 CARA Nominations to their name.
Williams College Ephlats “Notorious”
UNC Clef Hangers “Ordinary World”
You can find this on the BOCA 2010 compilation.
Here’s one of several really great multi-tracks by Luca Pagnotta, from Duran Duran’s 2011 album All You Need is Now:
Luca Pagnotta & Laura Addino “Blame the Machines”
And of course, from Duran Duran themselves, an a cappella version of one of my favorite songs of theirs, “Electric Barberella.” #iplugyouin
Duran Duran “Electric Barberella”
Some other Duran Duran a cappella covers worth checking out:
- Tufts Beelzebubs “Rio” (click link to listen)
- Red States “Ordinary World” (2011 CARA for Best CAL Song, click link for sample)
- Firedrill! “Save a Prayer” (SOOOOO GOOD!)
Here are some I know of that I haven’t listened to yet, but would like to:
- MIT Logarhythms “Hungry Like the Wolf” (incidentally, the hosts of BOSSaca 2012)
- The Brown Derbies “Hungry Like the Wolf”
If you know of others, post them in the Comments!
People have asked me where I hear about all of the a cappella groups I listen to. There are various sources, so maybe I’ll do an entire blogpost on that in the future.
In this case, I discovered Simply Put while watching the livestream of the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival (LAAF) Collegiate Competition in January 2012, which Simply Put hosted and during which they sang “”It Don’t Mean a Thing (If You Ain’t Got That Swing),” but would you believe this group somehow worked in “All the Single Ladies” and “I Whip My Hair” (arrangement by David Stal)?! I kid you not, it was RIDICULOUS (in a very good way)!
So, of course, I purchased their album Simply Put and took a first listen.
Verdict: SIMPLY PUT, I LIKE YOUR STYLE!
And interestingly, there is a style — a little jazzy, a little big band, a little theatrical — that is somehow more. There are recognizable influences from other artists that hint at the versatility of Simply Put. It sure makes me want to put the music on repeat so I can catch new things each time through. The ability to listen on repeat is a must for me when I purchase an entire album. This one’s a winner.
Simply Put was recently nominated for three 2012 CARAs (Contemporary A cappella Recording Awards) for Best Jazz Song for “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Best CAL (Contemporary A Cappella League) Album for Simply Put, and Best CAL Song for “Human Nature.”
You can also find Simply Put’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on the brand new album, Voices Only Forte, a compilation of tracks from professional, semi-professional, and amateur a cappella groups (i.e., non-collegiate). I can’t find a video of it to post for you, so instead, here is “Killing Me Softly.”
My favorite tracks on Simply Put are “Killing Me Softly,” “Human Nature,” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” but really, pretty much every song.
I am happy to say I will be present for the Live CARA Awards — with red carpet — at BOSSaca, cheering on Simply Put and all the other nominees. Don’t you wish you were going? #beep
In the meantime, leave a comment and let me know what you think about Simply Put!
*NOTE: Hey, everyone – made a correction in paragraph 2. “Sing, Sing, Sing” arranged by Deke Sharon is a completely different song than “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” arranged by David Stal. Credit where credit is due. I also corrected the CARA nomination info – 3 noms, not 2.
Fellow #basslove-rs of the world, unite! Did you know @mccannmusic was the originator of the #basslove hashtag on the Twitter in 2009?
Well, today I thought I’d post 5 of my favorite #basslove songs and take a little poll. I know I’m a little heavy on the Chaser followers, but try to be objective and vote for your true favorite. You’ll notice I included the all-female group Delilah because women can sing bass, too!
1. Club for Five “Brothers in Arms”
2. Delilah “Grenade” #ladynads
3. Duke Pitchforks “Home”
4. Straight No Chaser “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”
5. Tonic Sol-fa “Highway Patrol”
So, which was your favorite?
Some other current favorites of mine:
- Blue Jupiter “Lil’ Red Riding Hood”
- Duke Pitchforks “Hysteria”
- The Heebee-Jeebees “Mr. Bass Man”
- Naturally 7 – basically anything
- Straight No Chaser “Hi De Ho”
- Straight No Chaser “Live Your Life and Flow with Whatever You Like”
- Take 6 “Spread Love” #bangkbangk
- Vocal Union “Get Ready”
Let everyone know your favorite #basslove songs in the comments!
Last fall, I contacted a friend from high school who attended Duke University, (hi, Elaine!), to ask if she ever attended SoJam A Cappella Festival (which is held on the Duke campus). Although she replied she hadn’t, she did mention she was an original member of Duke Rhythm & Blue, an a cappella group on campus.
I had heard of Rhythm & Blue, but I hadn’t actually listened to them until a few weeks back via my “The Sing Off” Pandora station. What struck me was that I really liked every song that came on from their album House on Fire, so of course I headed to Spotify to check out the whole thing.
Verdict: I LOVE THE WHOLE ALBUM
With a little more exploring, I discovered these recent Fun Facts about RnB:
- Founded in Fall 1992
- Have opened for Rockapella and for Transit
- 2010 Winner, SoJam Collegiate A Cappella Competition
- 2011 single “Run” is featured on the compilation Voices Only 2011 College A Cappella (Volume 2)
- Nominated for 4 CARA Awards, including “Best Mixed Collegiate Album” for House of Fire (2010)
Here’s the song, “Closer,” that has been nominated for 2 CARA awards, one for “Best Hip Hop / R&B Song” among collegiate and professional a cappella groups, and one for “Best Mixed Collegiate Song.”
My favorites on House of Fire are “Closer” and “Alone,” but the whole album is just solid, as they say. It’s ALL good. I was amused to find a cover of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” on the 2007 album Punch a Higher Floor, but sometimes I think you have to have lived through the 80s to really get that music right.
A little additional group trivia: Dave Karger of Entertainment Weekly was also a founding member. Connections everywhere, if we only knew.
So, how did you like this edition of First Listen Friday? Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to leave me a comment!