Spotlight

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The Del Moroccos
I love bands that are throwbacks to other eras of music. Whether they’re modern takes on bluegrass or blues, it’s always interesting to see what happens when musicians who have grown up with a lot of influences apply themselves to something older and fuse those influences with it. It doesn’t always work, but it’s usually interesting. The folks who make up The Del Moroccos come from musical backgrounds that range from rockabilly to surf to ska to jazz, and they bring elements of all of them to their particular brand of 50’s R&B and soul.
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Australian blues musician Abbe May
If you were try to create a perfect woman, a la Weird Science, the end result might just be Abbe May. Why? She’s Australian, so she’s got a cool accent. She’s a badass guitarist. She’s got a voice that sound like it came straight from a stack of blues 78s from the 30s. She’s got all the attitude you could ever want. She even plays the ukulele! In age of manufactured pop stars it’s a crime that Abbe’s not a bigger star. But that’s ok, listen up and she’ll be our little secret.
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If you’ve been following Sunday Music Spotlight you may have caught on to the fact that I like bands that are unusual in some way. They may be from far-off places, have odd collections of members, or play music that’s outdated, off-kilter, or some kind of mix of genres. In the case of Jerry Fish & The Mudbug Club they’ve got a little bit of all of those things going on, so they’re a natural fit for the spotlight. The music they play is a little Tom Waits, a little Squirrel Nut Zippers, a little Otis Redding, and a little circus band. The bands members go by names like Dr. Nebulous, Spicy Mudbug, and Buzz Wilde. And they’re Irish, but don’t worry, they’re nothing like U2.
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Instead of a normal Sunday Music Spotlight we’ll use this week to look back at the music that’s been featured throughout the year. So here’s a playlist featuring a song from each of the 50 bands that were featured on the Spotlight in 2009. Enjoy, and come back next week for the first band of 2010.

cajun cook, storyteller, and singer Justin Wilson
Y’all remember Justin Wilson? He was that crazy Cajun chef on PBS when we were kids (or at least when I was a kid, and if you’re around 30 then you’re with me). The old guy with the suspenders. I used to love watching him on Saturdays. He was kind of drunk, Cajun Julia Child. Fond, fond memories.

Anywhoo, I stumbled across something that absolutely made my year. THE find of the holiday season, hands down. Mr. Wilson was something of a Renaissance man it seems. In addition to being a gifted cook and fantastic storyteller, he was comedian (he recorded several comedy albums), a political activist (he managed the unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign of William J. Dodd), and a safety engineer. And one more thing: a singer. In 1973 he released A Cajun Christmas with Justin Wilson, selections of which are presented here for your listening pleasure:

A Cajun Christmas With Justin Wilson“Randolf the Rouge-Nosed Reindeer”

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Leave it to a Cajun to change “Rudolph” to “Randolf”, and insert some French into the mix. The title may lead you to believe that it’s a novelty recording, but actually Wilson can kind of sing, and the arrangement is very good.

“Here Comes Santa Claus”

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Again, the arrangement here is great. It sounds like you’re in the French Quarter listening to a mellow old jazz band. And that wouldn’t be a bad way to spend Christmas, now would it?

Videos
Duck Hunting story

A Christmas story

Making Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

Seattle band Throw Me the Statue
Seattle is best known for being the birthplace of grunge, but that doesn’t mean every band it produces dresses in flannel and mumbles over power chords. In fact Throw Me the Statue has more in common with the 80s pop groups that grunge ushered out than it does with Nirvana and Pearl Jam. But this shouldn’t somehow imply that they’re being untrue to their musical heritage. They’re still making good, independent music and putting on engaging live shows. And any city would be proud of a band that does that.
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Roots singer/songwriter K.C. McKanzie
K.C. McKanzie sings like she was born and raised in Appalachia, but the truth is very different. She wasn’t raised in the hills of Tennessee, the valleys of Virginia, or the nooks and crannies of Kentucky. She grew up half a world away in Germany. How did she get into music steeped in Americana while growing up in Europe? Simple, she listened to a bunch of Canadians. As she put it, “I sat next to my sister and the radio played the song “The Weight” from “The Band”. I knew from now on that this is the sound. I wrote down the name of the Band on a napkin– still got the napkin but never bought the record!”
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Singer/Songwriter Mcgowan

It started with a Coke. When an Aussie friend pointed out that in America, a “regular” Coke was the size of a “Large” in the rest of the world, Mcgowan’s album American Regular got its name and attitude. Like its carbonated counterpart it’s a bit bigger and bolder than it probably should be. But just like an American Coke, it’s so good you won’t care.
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Canadian band The Schomberg Fair
Editor’s note: computer problems have caused this to be a half-assed Sunday Music Spotlight. That’s not a reflection of the band or its music. Just a reflection of how badly Microsoft blows. Now, on with the band’s bio, from their MySpace page.

With three years and hundreds of shows under their belts, the Toronto roots-rock trio The Schomberg Fair have developed a reputation for their hard-breathing, sweat-stained, late-night speed-gospel sets. It is with great pride that they announce the release of their sophomore long player “Gospel” – out October 2009 on Hi-Hat Records / Sonic Unyon Distribution.
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Holiday Shores
Holiday Shores isn’t just the name of a street in Florida. It’s also the name of a band. A band whose leader grew up on that street. A band who takes timeless formulas for building songs, drenches them in reverb, and gives them an inward-looking feel. A band so good, so powerful, that they managed to turn “Columbus” into a verb.
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