My Taste in Music
My musical tastes are often a little off the beaten path. Since a couple of years ago, when my household started watching Ditty TV on our Roku, I've really enjoyed listening to Americana music. Shawn James (with or without his band, The Shapeshifters) has been one of my favorites. Shawn James, along with fiddle player Sage Cornelius, recently played their first Minnesota gig at the Turf Club in St Paul, and I got to see him play live. Here are three of my favorite songs featuring Shawn James for your listening pleasure.
"Hellhound" by Shawn James
This is the first song by Shawn James I ever heard. In this video, it's amazing to me that this larger than life song is generated by one guy playing at least 3 instruments and singing in room full of weird stuff.
Cover of John Legend's "Who Did That to You?" by Shawn James with Sage Cornelius
I've heard the John Legend song (featured in the movie D'jango Unchained). Here, Shawn James does the song the way he thought it should have been done in that scene--a little angrier. Fiddle player Sage Cornelius is also ridiculously good.
"The Bear" by Shawn James and The Shapeshifters
I love this video. It has great music, fire and moonshine, so what's not to like? Near the end, as the lot of them are dancing around the fire, the guy on the left is jamming harder than perhaps anyone else has jammed in the history of playing an instrument while dancing. This song and video feature not only Shawn James, but The Shapeshifters as well.
Bonus: "John the Revelator" by Shawn James
Here is my fan filmed, poor lighting video of Shawn James singing an a cappella version of "John the Revelator" with the audience stomping and clapping along. Mad props to Sage Cornelius who is microphoneless, but jamming his heart out onstage. Video taken at The Turf Club in St Paul on 3/19/2018.
The Obligatory Nerd Girl Fan Photo
My husband, and extrovert, struck up a conversation with Shawn James before the concert, and took my picture with him. Now my daughter, who is particularly fond of "The Bear" video, will definitely think I'm super cool.
Weatherman by Willis
I first heard Willis during a performance at Circus Juventas at St. Paul. This song, Weatherman, is from the album Uncle Treacle. Willis is a combination of Lady Gaga's amazing voice with a vaudeville flair. she is well known for her costumers and theatrical makeup.
Weatherman by Daphne Willis
Yes, there is a song entitled "Weatherman" by two artists who have Willis as part of their name. Here is a live version of Weatherman by Daphne Willis. Her vocal range demonstrated in this song is impressive, and she performs music in multiple styles including country, blues and electronica.
Weatherman by Dead Sara
...and now for somethign completely different (and much harder). Dead Sara's is fronted by Emily Armstrong and Siouxsie Medley. The band describes themselves as "an electrifying four-piece rock band whose supercharged music is propelled by Medley’s exhilarating, monster guitar riffs and Armstrong’s powerful, wailing vocals."
I remember in college, watching Nirvana perform Smells Like Teen Spirit on MTV. It was like nothing I'd ever seen before. I also remember them publishing a version of the video clarifying what the sometimes mumbled words were, and then seeing the video again interspersed with a grieving Courtney Love lamenting Kurt Cobain's untimely death.
Fast forward many, many years. My daughter's junior high school band covered this song at a recent concert, which inspired me to find new, different covers of this now retro song.
Smells Like Teen Spirit: It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing
This version features a starlet Robyn Adele Anderson covering the song with a 1940's swing style.
Smells Like Teen Spirit: Full Orchestra and Choir
More instruments! More vocals! Even more smelling like Teen Spirit!
Smells Like Teen Spirit: A Capella
...and now for something completely different. This time, no instruments at all are needed. Instead, it's four guys, Maybebop, with microphones in a hallway doing amazing things with only their voices.
I live in South Minneapolis, just blocks from the house used as Prince's home in the movie Purple Rain. I also work in the Warehouse District of downtown Minneapolis down the street from First Avenue, where much of Purple Rain was filmed. Minnesota loves Prince. Upon his untimely death, many artists started adding Prince covers to their sets. While amazing covers of "Purple Rain" and "Nothing Compares 2 U" abound, here are three amazing covers of 'When Doves Cry."
Choir! of 1999 Voices Sings Prince "When Doves Cry"
See this amazing chorus of 1999 people pay tribute to Prince by singing "When Doves Cry." This event took place on May 2, 2016 and was recorded live in Toronto at Massey Hall. These people were given a couple hours of rehearsal just prior to this moving performance.
Greensky Bluegrass: When Doves Cry (Prince Cover)
When I think of "When Doves Cry", I think of electric guitars and moaning. Or, in this case, guitars, banjos and string basses.
Jack Black (of Tenacious D) Sings "When Doves Cry"
It's Tenacious D, and its' time for Jack Black's solo. Hear "When Doves Cry" as only he can sing it. If you never knew Jack Black could sing, prepare to be delighted. Note it's not a "Tribute," but the actual song.
I'm not a huge AC/DC fan, but being from a small town with a bowling alley, I have heard a fair amount of AC/DC in my time. Regardless, I do love a good cover, though--the more unexpected, the better. Check out these three fun covers of the song "Thunderstruck" as I'm guessing AC/DC never imagined it could be.
Turns out there are actual words to "Thunderstruck." In this version, you can even tell what they are--although there is no guarantee that all of these words align completely up with the original lyrics. It's even better when played by a Finnish band and features a banjo, an accordion, an anvil and a set of spoons.
This guy does covers of popular songs on a piano in a church. It's surreal hearing Thunderstruck sound beautiful.
My high school orchestra (who I swear could not play any song quite SLOW enough) would have been way more fun with these two. It's not everyday you see an intriguing Creation cello duo. I wonder how many bows these guys go through in a show. The Louis XVI era dress makes this rendition even better.
Finding New Music
A while ago, my husband and I stumbled upon a channel on our Roku called DittyTV. This station features videos by Americana musicians. Here are videos by three of my favorite groups that I've found recently.
Shawn James & the Shapeshifters
This video features Shawn James without the Shapeshifters. He's just a guy, in a room full of weird stuff singing an amazing song and playing all of the instruments by himself.
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Any guy whose band is called The Night Sweats has to be okay. The song is fun and the video has a Blues Brothers movie feel.
The Dead South
I love these 4 Canadians dressed like Amish guys in this quirky video where they are playing in multiple atypical concert locations.
I learn for a living. I distill my research into useful blog entries. Geek, parent, knitter, yogi, writer, educator, businessperson, gluten intolerant & roller derby nerd.