New Ryan Amador video: In A Little Room

Ryan Amador just posted a great video directed by David Baloche for “In A Little Room“, one of the tracks off his Symptoms of a Wide Eyed Being EP from Funky Butter Productions, released earlier this fall.

You can grab the record on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify or from Ryan’s website. Kudos to Kate Ferber and Jordan Perlson who performed on the track and Shaina Taub who co-produced it.

Language Revival: Native American tribe relearns their lost language

An old friend hipped me to Anne Makepeace‘s beautiful documentary which recently aired on PBS: “We Still Live Here – Âs Nutayuneân.

Celebrated every Thanksgiving as the ‘Indians’ who saved the Pilgrims from starvation and then largely forgotten, the Wampanoag communities of southeastern Massachusetts are reviving their native tongue, a language that had been silenced for more than 100 years.

Some words of the language will sound familiar to those familiar with Massachusetts and particularly Martha’s Vineyard geography. In addition to the inspiring story of how Jessie Little Doe Baird took on the task of reclaiming and teaching the language throughout the community, with her 3-year-old daughter as the first new native speaker, PBS also maintains an excellent site with supplementary material covering Native American language revival throughout the US and some striking testimonials from Noam Chomsky and others. In one clip, Jean O’Brien, a scholar of Ojibwe waxes poetic on language and identity:

“I think people are passionate about language because it’s about sovereignty and nationhood. It’s about a core expression of your own nation, your separate existence as a people that stretches into the unknowable past. … It’s about identity, it’s about place, it’s about marking yourselves as a different people in really fundamental ways. … Culture and language are inextricable.”

She then gets super heady about the worldview distinctions present in Ojibwe, including counter-intuitive distinctions between animate and inanimate entities. My kind of fare.

The full story, for those who missed the film, is also available in this article from MIT.

I can’t help but wonder how Ghil’ad Zuckermann would feel about a revived Wampanoag. In the above link, he asserts that the native Yiddish and Russian of Modern Hebrew‘s founding speakers had a profound and fundamental affect on the revived language. (Duh.) His conclusions are inevitably political, but his evidence is fascinating regarding the only large-scale successful revival of a dead tongue that I’m aware of.

What a gift– and burden– it must be for Jessie’s daughter Mae, the Wampanoag language’s Itamar Ben-Avi. But if We Still Live Here is any indication, Mae will have more that her parents with whom to speak her people’s language.

Bass transcription from Meshell Ndegeocello’s new record, “Weather”

Meshell Ndegeocello has a new record coming tomorrow, and we get a tantalizing preview with a free track she’s leaked on her website, “Dirty World”. I couldn’t help but transcribe the hairy broken drum and bass groove played by her and Deantoni Parks. Check out the track and sheet music below, and for good measure, I cleaned up and threw in her excellent bass grooves from Comfort Woman and The World Has Made Me The Man of My Dreams that I posted here some time ago.

Note the broken drum feel, and which notes Meshell plays short versus which she slides into. The two make a monster rhythm section and give a simple two-bar loop an instantly recognizable flavor.

Bass transcription of Meshell Ndegeocello's "Dirty World"

Click for Free Download

Note: The download link above will open a check-out dialogue but will NOT ask for any credit card information– it’s entirely free!

We get a preview of the entire record on NPR’s review of Weather. You can grab the CD tomorrow, and she’s also soon to be on tour.

Bon Iver plays “Holocene” on Jimmy Fallon

This guy never ceases to amaze. Was blown away by his performance of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” some months back, and then he goes and brings a small orchestra on Jimmy Fallon.


Speaking of Bonnie Raitt, if you haven’t thoroughly memorized every articulation in her 1971 cover of Blind Faith‘s “Can’t Find My Way Home”, it’s time to get started.

Ryan Amador’s “Symptoms of a Wide Eyed Being” available today

Funky Butter Productions’ newest release, Ryan Amador‘s Symptoms of a Wide Eyed Being is officially released today and available on iTunes.

Symptoms, produced by Justin Goldner and Shaina Taub, features 5 tunes showcasing Ryan’s range from driving rock choruses to indie-dance anthems.

You can grab the record on iTunes and can stream the lead-off track, “Apology” right here:

Also featured on the record: “Define Me“, an infectious ode to self expression; “Tidal Wave“, an epic tune with soulful vocals; “Rolling Over“, an R&B tune mixing Imogen Heap’s pointed electronica with St. Vincent’s orchestral touch; and “In A Little Room“, where the Smashing Pumpkins meet Taylor Swift (featuring Kate Ferber on vocals).

Big thanks to everyone who contributed to the record, including Jordan Perlson on drums, Dana Leong, for laying down a tapestry of cello parts on “Rolling Over”, Chris Zembower for mixing and mastering, and David Baloche, Amanda Shechtman, Shaina Taub and Kate Ferber for lending their vocal talents.

Ryan makes his live NYC debut this Thursday at Caffe Vivaldi in the village.

Shaina Taub’s “What Otters Do” now available

After a fantastic audience at her CD release party last night at Rockwood Music Hall, Shaina Taub’s What Otters Do is now officially available at her website, with free digital downloads, CD/lyrics booklets, sheet music, and the works.

Morgan Karr featured on LogoTV Blog

Funky Butter Productions’ recent release, Morgan Karr’s mashup of One Republic’s “Apologize” and Jon McLaughlin’s “Human” was featured on LogoTV’s “NewNowNext” blog:


In addition, Shaina Taub’s What Otters Do comes out next Monday with a CD release party at Rockwood Music Hall. You can pre-stream the entire album here for the next week.

Sneak Preview: Shaina Taub’s “Make A Mess”

After 2 years in the making, Shaina Taub‘s debut record What Otters Do will be coming out at the end of August! Lots more details to come… meanwhile, you can grab a sneak preview (read: free download) of the single “Make A Mess“, at this link, when purchasing tickets to our show next Thursday at Ars Nova by entering the promo code “WHATOTTERSDO”.

Next week’s show (Thu 7/21 @8pm) will feature heaps of new material with a huge and varied cast of musicians.

Other fun stuff this week:

Tonight Fri 7/15 –  with Siân Pottok at 55 bar – 6-9pm
Tonight Fri 7/15 – with The Morning Code @ Arlene’s Grocery – 11pm
Sunday 7/17 – 40 year anniversary tribute to Joni Mitchell’s Blue @ Googie’s Lounge – 9pm
Tues 7/19 – with Elizabeth Claire Burke @ Rockwood Music Hall – 7pm
Fri 7/22 – with Eren Cannata in Glen Cove, Long Island
Sat 7/23 – with Grace McLean @ The Flea – 11pm
Mon 7/25 – NYCLU Broadway Stands Up For Freedom @ Skirball Center, annual benefit playing with hordes of B’way stars. Hordes.

New Single: Abby Bernstein’s “Just Know”

Today Abby Bernstein releases a brand new single that I co-wrote and co-produced, along with Abby and Chris Camilleri!

I worked with Abby on her most recent record I’m Not Sorry, and it was great getting to work with Chris for the first time.

Big-ups to Jordan Perlson (drums) and Dana Leong (cello) for lending their talents to this track.

Check it out on iTunes here:

Arabic fusion: Shusmo’s “Pieces”

The only thing that rivals the feeling I get from the classics of Arabic or Balkan music– Umm Kulthum, Petro-Loukas Chalkias, Vassilis Tsitsanis– is to hear new, inventive works drawing on such rich traditions. Waterlily Acoustics has been a treasury of acoustic world fusion, with some standout titles such as Tabula Rasa with Indian slide guitarist V.M. Bhatt, Chinese er-hu (2 string fiddle) player Jie-Bing Chen and Bela Fleck on banjo, and the Grammy-winning A Meeting By The River with the aforementioned Bhatt and Ry Cooder.

Another record that struck me on its release a few years ago was One by New York-based group Shusmo (“شو إسمه”, Levantine Arabic for “What’s it called?”).  Led by Palestinian buzuq player Tareq Abboushi and featuring Peruvian, Greek and American musicians, the group has a strong melodic thread supported by an irresistible lattice of Latin and Arabic rhythms– congas and riqq cover a spectrum of both frequency and rhythmic space.

Below is a transcription of the lead-off track, “Pieces”. You can stream the tune here.

This Thursday June 23, Shusmo celebrates the release of their new record at Joe’s Pub in New York.