Sunday, June 16, 2013

An examination of fatherhood through songs

Many songs written about mothers seem to be flowery, full of love.  Many, but not all.  Roger Waters' portrait of a mother in "The Wall" wasn't exactly complimentary, but that's more an exception to the rule when it comes to songs about motherhood.

For the most part, songs about mothers tug at the heartstrings in a touching way.

(Image via
There are songs about fathers that can do the same thing.  But in many cases, it seems, they take a more complex look at the role of a father in family life.

For one example, there's Harry Chapin's song "Cats In The Cradle."  It tells of a father so busy working to support his family that he misses out on the "little things" in a child's life, and when the years have gone by and he finally takes the time, his son is too busy making his way up in the world.

There's closeness in many songs about fathers, but there's also distance.  There's something about those songs about fathers that runs deeper, with more complexity.

We are -- as fathers -- what we make of being a father.

Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

How to describe Marbin? It's taken a while to decide

My apologies go out to Dani Rabin.

From out of the blue, Dani sent me a private message several weeks ago on a progressive music discussion web site we're both members of, asking me to check out a YouTube video with a song from his group, Marbin, from the Chicago-based group's latest album, "Last Chapter of Dreaming."

Dani Rabin and Danny Markovitch, the foundation of Marbin.
The song was "Volta."  It started out in quiet, stirring fashion.  Highly enjoyable, featuring mellow chords from Rabin on guitar and some engaging saxophone playing from Danny Markovitch.  After that nearly minute-long intro to this band I'd never heard of before, the song broke into a stronger electric sound from Rabin while "easing" into a much more complex time signature punctuated by spot-on exchanges between Rabin and Markovitch, as well as some fabulous time-keeping from drummer Justyn Lawrence and bassist Jae Gentile -- not an easy task by any means when you listen to the kind of music they're playing.

It was my very first exposure to Marbin.  I was highly impressed.  No, more than that -- I was hooked.  I promised Dani that I'd give them some exposure in my music blog, but I wanted to give their music a better listen for a decent treatment.

Since first hearing from Dani in early May, I've watched their other YouTube videos, checked out their web page, hooked up with their Facebook page, even created a Marbin station for myself on Pandora.

I'm still trying to figure out how to adequately describe the kind of music Marbin plays.  Instrumental?  Absolutely, all the way.  Progressive?  Ditto.  Fusion?  Yeah, there's some of that.  It definitely rocks.  There's a "world" feel to it as well.  It's hard to pin these guys down on style, and maybe there's really no need to try.  It deserves just sitting back and enjoying.

There was one day while I was at work, I had all my Pandora stations in shuffle mode as I focused on a tedious task.  I wasn't paying extremely close attention to the artists playing the songs because I knew who a lot of them were, and if I was particularly captured by something that I heard I'd double-check to see who it was.  On one tune, I thought it sounded a lot like Pat Metheny.  It turned out to be Marbin.  Which wouldn't be surprising, since an important part of Marbin's history includes playing with perhaps Metheny's best-known rhythm section in drummer Paul Wertico and bassist Steve Rodby.

There are times when I listen to the talent of Markovitch on the sax, and I think, "Kenny G on steroids after getting some lessons on how to play truly complex music."

There are times when -- if he's not playing something reminiscent of Metheny -- Rabin can do something with a whammy bar on his guitar that reminds me of some of the cooler tricks practiced by Jeff Beck ... high praise, indeed.  Yet Rabin has his own distinct style.

If you check out Marbin's YouTube channel, you'll see Rabin give tips on how to make a living playing live music out on the road.  Rabin took time out from an extremely busy touring schedule recently to get married.  Otherwise, they're playing around 300 shows a year across the country.

And who are some of the musicians they've been touring with in the past?  Fusion folks like Scott Henderson, Mike Clark, and Jeff Berlin, not to mention an Allan Holdsworth trio with Yellowjackets’ bassist Jimmy Haslip and monster drummer Virgil Donati.

Marbin has an impressive resume.  But I still have to apologize to Dani Rabin for taking so long to find the kind of words to best describe them here.  Bottom line:  I'm hooked.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

There are moves, and then there are MOVES!

Not trying to brag, but I can do okay when it comes to dance moves.  There's nothing choreographed when it comes to what I do on a dance floor or anywhere where the music hits me.  I just get into the groove and let it take charge of my dancing muscles.

But I could NEVER do something as good as this ...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

That feeling of "community" in "Lean On Me"

Bill Withers wrote the classic soul song "Lean On Me" in part because he missed the strong community ethic of his small hometown in West Virginia after he moved to Los Angeles.

"Community ethic."  People pulling together to help each other, especially when friends are in need.

Angie Briceno, Anika Constantino, Hainite Matangi and Alicia Miller perform "Lean On Me."
That's one thing that's made Withers' classic piece an enduringly timeless and memorable song.  It's a tune that's known among the younger generation today.  My daughter Alicia goes to Summit Christian Academy, a small Christian school in Salt Lake City, and she recently started singing "Lean On Me" around her friends when one of them said she liked it a lot.  Two more friends joined in and started working on it to get it ready for a future performance.

They ended up singing it together with Alicia accompanying on piano last week for an eighth grade graduation ceremony for two of their friends.  At Alicia's school, it's small enough that there's a strong sense of "community," learning to help each other out when a friend is in need.

The song about "community" was appropriate.