Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
This week a return to a theme that’s always been popular on this feature: female artists. Guys don’t dominate the music industry and haven’t for a long time, and that’s a good thing. I’ve collected some, I wouldn’t say unusual, but different examples of women musicians you just don’t see or hear that often.
Let’s begin with a group simply referred to as Electric Quartet. Couldn’t find much information at all about these four. All I know is they look and sound very good on Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11 in A Major.
“I hate having to follow a bunch of hot girls in short dresses playing Nirvana on violins.”
Comedian Dana Carvey
Yes, I know. The video is showing the women playing to a recording of theirs. My reaction? So.
What about saxophones?
This next group formed back in 2006 with a firm goal of playing saxophone quartet music. So the women rehearsed weekly for nearly a year and added a rhythm section and even taught workshops before finding success performing in the Portland area.
“At first glance, you might think the Quadraphonnes are just a gimmick, four ladies playing saxophone to a funky, bluesy, jazzy beat, sort of a Bangles for beboppers. But listen closely and these musicians are much more than that — they have created a rich tapestry of sound, trading tasteful solos with one another that slowly sizzle with nicely constructed melodic runs that pull you in as opposed to bombastic blowing that merely impresses but does not move.”
Rob Cullivan, Portland Tribune 2/14/14
Who says a baritone saxophone can’t be sexy?
For the Quadraphonnes it’s Mieke Bruggeman who got her music education and performance degrees from Northern Arizona University in 1998, and then took on several careers (the Air Force, a massage therapist , and bartender) before settling on music.
Now something more familiar.
A Taste of Honey began in 1971, after Janice Marie Johnson (vocals, guitar) and Perry Kibble (keyboards) met at an audition for vacation cruise gigs. Hazel Payne was also part of the band (vocals, guitar) that yes, took its name from the famous Herb Alpert song. Often they’d play at Southern California bars and military bases in the U.S. and abroad.
During a show at a base where a tough crowd was unresponsive Hazel Payne scolded them from the stage:
“If you’re thinking that you’re too cool to boogie, we’ve got news for you. Everyone here tonight must boogie and you are no exception to the rule.”
Later, back in their hotel room, Janice Marie Johnson wrote down the line, thinking that it might work in a song. It did. Two million copies worth.
The group’s other big hit was a remake of “Sukiyaki,” a recording nothing like “Boogie Oogie Oogie.” In 1979 they were awarded the Grammy for Best New Artist.
Here’s another string quartet with a quick medley that is quite, ahem, interesting.
The name Tutta Bravura translates to “all skill.”
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
Larry Braggs was once the lead singer for the horn band “Tower of Power.” He and this ensemble get together in Buenos Aires for a song written and originally recorded by Al Green.
The Go-Go’s formed in Los Angeles. From their website:
From their halcyon days as America’s sweethearts to their current status as superstars who pioneered a genre, The Go-Go’s preside over an amazing three-decade reign as high pop priestesses. The internationally-loved pop hitmakers helped cement the foundation of the early 80’s pop-rock sound without the aid of outside composers, session players or, most importantly, creative compromise.
Their story truly is a punk version of the American Dream. They came, they saw and they conquered the charts, the airwaves and, with their kicky kitsch appeal, pop culture in general.
Sure, before the Go-Go’s debuted in May of ’78, there were other all-female bands, but to a man (ahem, or in this case, woman) there was usually a seedy, cigar-chompin’ guy lurking just behind the curtain, pulling strings, writing songs and shaping the image as his gals danced on his string. But The Go-Go’s didn’t need a doctor in their house. No Phil Spector, Kim Fowley or Sonny Bono plotted their moves. It was their baby right from the start and they nursed the bouncing infant on a diet of non-stop nocturnal nourishment in dank clubs all across the city.
Here they are in 2016 doing their biggest charting record.