Sunday, May 22, 2011

Duwende: A Cappella Magic

Sometimes I am really thankful for youtube's existence, because it has hipped me to a number of  great musicians who I would have never known about had it not been around. And I have recently come across an amazing a capella band named Duwende on the popular video-sharing site. Duwende is made up of six very talented vocalists who are known for their singular bass-and-beatbox-driven funk/pop style. The members of the New York-based band are J. Aaron Boykin (baritone/tenor), Derrick L. Hicks (tenor), Abbey Janes (soprano), Neal Mortimer (tenor), Edward Chung (vocal percussion) and Ari Picker (bass).  - ccfldddd

Their vocal work is fluid and inventive, with rich, soulful harmonies. Each member contributes his or her own unique flavor to Duwende's sound. The band covers a wide range of styles, including funk, rock, R&B, folk, hip hop and world beat. The band has released four albums since forming more than ten years ago and first made its mark performing in traditional rock clubs and venues. Duwende has since played at music festivals, colleges and special events all around the U.S., as well as headlining major a cappella shows, including the East Coast Summit, SoJam and AcappellaStock. The band has also performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and recently played on Park City Television during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

And at the 2002 Independent Music World Series, the editors of Billboard Magazine selected Duwende as one of the "Top 6 Indie Acts in the Northeast," and the band's album Radio Screaming (2004) won Best Pop/Rock Album from The annual Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARA) in 2005, with album single "I Fall" winning Best Original Song. And in 2008, Duwende's album Collective (2007) earned the band a second CARA win for Best Pop/Rock Album, as well as Best Original Song for single "Young Leaders of Tomorrow."

On May 24, Duwende will release a Michael Jackson tribute album titled Remember: The Music Of Michael Jackson, which contains covers of some of his biggest hits, including "Billie Jean," "Black or White" and "Rock With You." The members of Duwende, who cite MJ as their biggest inspiration, put their own original spin on his classic songs, showcasing the band's versatility and creativity. The collection is the band's first cover album. You can learn more about Duwende at their websiteThe band is signed to independent label Duwende Music LLC.

Download Remember: The Music Of Michael Jackson at Amazon.

Duwende's cover of "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"

Duwende's cover of "Billie Jean"

Duwende performing original song "Sugar" live

Related blog entry: Duwende Performing at Java Jazz Festival

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Prince Tears The Roof Off The Sucka at the Forum in Los Angeles

Photo by Fabhouse73
 His Royal Badness continues to spread the funk across the nation with his Welcome 2 America Tour and is now thrilling Los Angeles audiences on his "21 Nite Stand" residency at the Forum in Inglewood, an LA suburb. Prince brought the funk with both barrels on Saturday night, May 7, at the legendary venue. After more than 30 years in the music biz, Prince showed that he hasn't lost a step and can still electrify an audience like no one else.

 The show opened with a solid set by Grammy Award-winning jazz bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding. After Spalding completed her set, The Purple One and his band the New Power Generation hit the stage like a funky cyclone with a bumpin’ performance of "D.M.S.R." The raucous track was an inspired choice to kick off the show, getting everyone on their feet and in a party mood. Prince and his crew kept the groove factor high nearly the entire show, only occasionally slowing things down. And when Prince did slow things down, he killed. The band wowed the audience with a majestic performance of slow jam "Shhh," which climaxed with a blazing guitar solo by Prince.

Some of the other highlights included hot performances of hits "1999," "Let's Go Crazy," "Rasberry Beret," "When Doves Cry" and "Kiss." In addition, Prince and the NPG delivered a powerful, gospel-drenched reading of "Purple Rain" that took the audience to church. The set also featured a furiously funky cover of Sly & The Family Stone's classic "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)." The band also did covers of other great '70s funk tracks, such as Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music," "Love Rollercoaster" by The Ohio Players and Kool & the Gang's "Hollywood Swinging," where Prince had audience members chanting "Inglewood Swinging" in place of the original song title.

And Shelia E. received a big audience response for her roof-raising performance of her hit song "The Glamorous Life." And as he has done in previous shows, Prince had a well-known performer join him onstage for a song. This time he nabbed Nicole Scherzinger, former lead singer with the Pussycat Dolls, to perform "I'll Never Be Another Fool" with him. Scherzinger's gritty performance was a nice surprise, proving that she has some serious vocal chops that weren't fully utilized on the mostly lightweight dance/pop material she sang with PCD.

The show also featured a brilliant mashup of the Time's hit "Cool" and Michael Jackson's classic "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."

It was an incredible show from start to finish, and audience members definitely got their money's worth and then some, with Prince returning for three encores. One of the things that struck me the most about the show was Prince's supreme confidence in everything he did. He took full command onstage, and there was no question of who was running the show. They don't call him His Royal Badness for nothing.