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Since my relocation from NYC to Nashville, I have learned a great deal about music. The misconception is that Nashville is the mecca of country music, cornfields and cowboys…not that far off, mind you, but they don’t call it Music City for nothing! Nashville is actually a stew filled with Rock, Classic, Pop and R&B Country, Bluegrass, The Blues, Jazz, Alternative, Alternative, Indie Punk and singer/songwriters seasoned with a lot of blood, sweat, tears, whiskey…and beer. I never understood why people hated Nickelback so much until I started going to honky tonks and seeing guitarists use their fingers to make their strings sang…like a big fat woman singing lead in a gospel choir. While lyrics are important, the skill with which a musician plays their instrument is equally important and necessary to bring life to the story being told.

I say all this to say that while I love live music, I have been re-introduced to something that I never appreciated before Nashville…and that is vinyl records. The first time I heard Bob Seger and The Live Bullet Band’s (LIVE) record I had a religious experience. ‘Looking Back’ has now been engraved on my heart and in my very soul. There is something that alters in you when you hear that vinyl spin, the gentle snap, crackle and pop of the grooves as that needle releases the music into the air. Somehow, vinyl records captures the aura and power of a live performance and loses none of its staying power…a feat that CD’s and mp3 can never aspire to achieve.

A little history/definition of vinyl records:

A gramophone record, commonly known as a phonograph record (in American English), vinyl record (in reference to vinyl, the material most commonly used after about 1950), or colloquially, a record, is an analog sound storage medium consisting of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove. The groove usually starts near the periphery and ends near the center of the disc. Phonograph records are generally described by their diameter in inches (12-inch, 10-inch, 7-inch, etc.), the rotational speed at which they are played (“33⅓ r.p.m.”, “78”, “45”, etc.), their time capacity (“Long Playing”), their reproductive accuracy, or “fidelity”, or the number of channels of audio provided (“Mono”, “Stereo”, “Quadraphonic”, etc.)

Phonograph records were the primary medium used for music reproduction for most of the 20th century, replacing the phonograph cylinder, with which it had co-existed, by the 1920s. By the late 1980s, digital media had gained a larger market share, and the vinyl record left the mainstream in 1991. However, they continue to be manufactured and sold in the 21st century. The vinyl record regained popularity by 2008, with nearly 2.9 million units shipped that year, the most in any year since 1998 and the format has continued to slowly regain popularity. They are especially used by DJs and audiophiles for many types of music. As of 2012, vinyl records continue to be used for distribution of independent and alternative music artists. More mainstream pop music releases tend to be mostly sold in compact disc or other digital formats, but have still been released in vinyl in certain instances.*

Are they ever making a comeback! If you can’t see a band/artist live, then the only other way to truly experience them is to listen to them on a record.

This might sound like ancient history to the generation today that is out buying music…or what is passing as music these days. However, I implore you to give it a try. Hit up places like Ebay, Amazon and Urban Outfitters to find a record player. They actually have modernized players where you can convert the songs from the record to an mp3 file that you can download into your ipod and/or computer.

Sunday Funday consisted of listening to Koko Taylor shake the earth! I AM A WOMAN!!!! Vinyl is the ONLY way to truly experience a legend like Koko.

Thank you Nashville for my continuing education in music. I’m working on my doctorate y’all! Next stop, Country Music Hall Of Fame.

Until next time,

American Leo







*Taken from Wikipedia. Check out the link for more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gramophone_record

PSA: I was born and raised in The Bronx, NY, American, a Yankee through and through. Some say The Bronx is where Hip Hop was born as well, making it a distant cousin of mine. Staple diet for most New Yorkers includes bagels for breakfast, a hero for lunch and a large pizza pie from the local pizzeria for dinner.

So how the heck did I end up in Nashville, TN honky tonking my life away?

Easy. I love country music. Now, to be clear, I love all different types of music, especially since I love to dance and have been a dancer since the age of ten. However, I am also a writer and it is the lyrics and emotion of country music that appeals and calls to me the most. The twangs of guitars and the commotion that a fiddle can cause incites me to want to get up and two step or sit down with a bottle of whiskey and have a good cry. Both are healing and invigorating.

Country music is also relatable, seeing as how I am from this country. People tend to forget that. I may not go out into the fields or drive around in a tractor, but I get up and go to work every day to put food on the table and to provide for my family. I have experienced the kind of heart break that has turned weaker men insane and I love to party with my friends on special occasions…like when it’s someone’s birthday or/and when it isn’t. And country music, whether its 3 chords or magical, whimsical chords like the ones created by Brad Paisley or Keith Urban, it all captures my life in song.

Lastly, it is said that country music has the best and most loyal fans, but I believe this is true because country music has the best and most humble artists. Now, don’t get me wrong, every genre of music has assholes. However, 9 out of every 10 country music artist I meet have been warm, inviting, and thankful for my support. It makes me want to support them more (Note to music artists, y’all might want to highlight this and put it in ya pocket for future reference).

Are you ready for the country? Are you ready for me?

And that’s why I am here. And I am not going anywhere. Yeehaw!

American Leo

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Last night was definately epic. If you read my last post, I saw Eric Church the night before and let me tell you, it was weak and I left livid. Had to be at work at 8am and by 2pm I was crash and burn. Through the infamous @Katelvsnyy, I was introduced to Kerri Leigh via Twitter and after youtubing her (That does sound kind of dirty, I apologize in advance Kerri) I was impressed with her vocals enough to agree to go see her in action live.
Now, remember, I was a zombie by 2pm and her show wasn’t until 9pm at The Bitter End down in the West Village. I didn’t want to do the enery drink thing, so after I got off work at 5pm, I went to BK to see my friends Reckless Addicts and crashed on their bed until 7:30pm. (Trust me, all this background will get me to the point lol). After dragging myself up and heading back down to the city, my entourage of 3 canceled on me. So, now I had to stay awake, make it to the venue, and pay enough attention to blog about it the next day all by my lonesome.
When I got to The Bitter End, Drew Citron was performing and while the young lady is extremely talented, she was making my fellow barmen and I extemely sleepy. The guy next to me asked if I knew them and when I said no, he replied ” Oh good, I hope the next act is a bit more upbeat because I am thinking about calling it quits. This girl put me to bed”. I convinced him to stay and prayed that Kerri Leigh would deliver and not have me sneaking out the back hiding from this guy….
….AND BOY OH BOY DID SHE DELIVER! Kerri Leigh is a beautiful young woman with a powerful voice and an amazing stage presence. She sang and sang and danced and rocked and her band was just as amazing as her voice. I cannot believe she isn’t signed to any major record label yet, but mark my words people, Kerri Leigh WILL BE. Her energy made me forget how tired I was and her music is the antidote to zombieism. Guess they should have just played her music in Resident Evil and everyone would have returned to normal.
By the end of her set, I was wide awake and ready to party! I got to speak with her briefly after the show and what made the night is that as beautiful as she is on the outside (and the woman is smoking people), she is just as beautiful on the inside. Check her out on Twitter @Kerrileighmusic and follow her so you can be at her next show.
YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS OUT on this young woman who is representing country music OFFICIAL! And I want to personally thank Miss Kerri Leigh. You definatley ROCKED US OUT.

Remember the name. She is a Rockstar and she won’t let you forget it.

Love and Respect,
American Leo

“Like James Brown, only white and taller!”

Monday, August 1, 2011

This has been one of the best weekends hands down. Had brunch on Saturday and Sunday ( I’ve got a thing for goat cheese – don’t judge me lol ) and worked on getting my guitar tuned. However, the highlight of the weekend was Saturday. My connection to all things awesome in country music, @Katelvsnyy informed me that Hayes Carll would be putting on a free show in Stuyvesant Town in NYC and we need to get our asses down there. Needless to say, when @Katelvsnyy says go, you put your cowboy boots on and GO! So we made the trek and got there as Hayes Carll and the band were setting up.
I was definatley blown away by the set up. Stuyvesant Town is a little world all to itself with a nicely sized and maintained green that everyone was laid out on. Parents with bottles of wine and blankets and kids doing somersaults all over the place. Definately had a hippie vibe going on and I instantly felt at home. Now, this was gonna be my first Hayes Carll show so I didn’t really know what to expect.
When he came on, he immediatley started rocking out. I was impressed with his guitar skills and that each member of his band had amazing skills. There was a slide guitar, a steel guitar, a full drum set, a eukelale, a harmonica (which he played as he played his acoustic guitar), a banjo and an accordian. His music is so multi dimensional and he sings with so much feeling that you experience great empathy with whatever he is going through. It makes you think, he knows what time it is since I am going through the same thing.
Funniest part of the show is when Hayes stopped and said that earlier in the day, he had never seen so many young girls in bikinis at a show before, but when his band came out, all he sees is old people and strollers! I was on the floor with this one. Good thing @Katelvsnyy and I were right in front of the stage jamming out with the band. He played favorites like Bad Liver & A Broken Heart, I Don’t Want To Grow Up and Drunken Poet’s Dream. When he sang Girl Downtown about a girl name Katie and how she could be the one, I HAD to start pointing at @Katelvsnyy to make sure Hayes knew that YES, she is definately the one and she is right here in front getting her world rocked by your music. He closed the show with Stomp and Holler after a solid hour of him playing and singing.
I was so impressed that he put so much of his heart into this show, seeing that it was free and open to all. His stage presence is very laid back, but once he starts getting into his music he transports us all into the country by the lake sitting on the back of your truck drinking beer and jamming out to the radio. I have to say, if I wasn’t smitten with country music before, I sure am now!
After the show, @Katelvsnyy and I decided to chill out behind the stage for a while and listen to the next act going on. As we were conversing amongst ourselves, Hayes Carll walked by. We told him he put on an awesome show and then the unthinkable happened. He did a 180 degree turn and came up to us. Now, for those of you that have seen Hayes Carll in pictures and from far away, they don’t do this man ANY JUSTICE AT ALL. He is gorgeous in person and it is how amazing he is on the inside that shines right through to the outside. He thanked us for coming and shook our hands. We exchanged names and then small talked about his show and what we were all going to do after the show. He said that the free show was the last stop on his tour and he was heading back to  Texas in ten hours but he would be back in NY performing in Brooklyn this November. When he left us, I was literally on cloud 9 and @Katelvsnyy had to pull me back down to earth. For a man that has 5 albums recorded, I never expected him to be so down to earth and nice. Once I got back home, needless to say, I made sure I had all of his albums in my possession and couldn’t stop talking about him.
What more can I say? Hayes Carll live is a MUST for any lover of country music, or lover of music PERIOD as he has alot of diversity within his band. He is sweet, human, GORGEOUS and he definately Stomped & Hollered all over Stuyvesant Town and my heart.
And I am soooo okay with that.
Get out and buy his albums people on itunes. He needs to be number 1 pronto.
Totally Smitten,
American Leo

So the journey begins…


Hello world.
Barely up and have to be at ’em in a couple of hours but the lack of sleep over the past few weeks has definately been worth it. Such a turn of events 2011 has been for me and who would have ever thought that me, I! would be a blogger. (Well, maybe my bestie knew, but that’s what besties are for right?)
Well, what the hell do I have to add to the blogging world, pray tell? As a Leo, I hate to be forced into a specific box or told what to do. So, of course, my blog isn’t about one specific thing or topic. It’s about whatever I have experienced that has made me better, stronger, greater, happier, more content and satisfied in my life. Which of course, translates into Travel, Food, Relationships and Music lol. I will also throw in some current events and the like, as our country has also experienced some crazy happenings over the past few years.
People, it’s all about growth. No matter how old you are, never feel it is too late. It is only too late when your dead. If you have air in your lungs and your brain is functioning, get out there and start your life journey. Try things you said you never would. Go places you never thought you could go. Meet new people that you never thought you would like (or maybe you even thought they would not like you, silly rabbit!) I can say that 2011 has been a year of extreme horrible but also extreme awesomeness personified.
So, thanks for reading and this journey begins…