essay Archive

In Memory of Tommy Keene

Every so often – and not really that often at all – I hear a song that figuratively grabs me by the lapels and shakes me. It happened with World Party’s “Put the Message in the Box.” It happened with Todd Rundgren’s “Love of the Common Man.” And if most definitely happened one day during

A Pink Floyd Anniversary

I first discovered the music of Pink Floyd in the mid 1970s. The Dark Side of the Moon had already been out a few years, and Wish You Were Here had been released, too. Animals hadn’t yet come out, so this would have been 1976. I was 11 or 12 years old, and the music

A Johnny Mathis Playlist

To preview a Johnny Mathis concert, my editor at Salt Lake City Paper recently asked me to compile a playlist of the vocalist’s lesser-known tracks. This I did. The piece as it ran was edited for space, but some good stuff got cut. Here’s the entire essay. — bk Johnny Mathis has been a staggeringly

Floating Festivals

Rock ‘n’ Roll-themed Cruises While retirees and young professionals might not always share the same taste in music, one leisure activity with appeal that spans generations is the music festival experience. And in recent years, many ocean cruises have come up with a successful way to capture that excitement. Rock ‘n’ roll-themed cruises are among

Sigur Rós Proves That Music Really is the Universal Language

A brief written description of the music of Sigur Rós rarely does it justice. Variously described as post-rock, impressionistic, glacial and abstract, the music on the trio’s seven studio albums often features falsetto vocals in either the group’s native Icelandic or an invented, wordless “language” called Hopelandic or vonlenska. But while that summary might suggest

Gang of Four: The Gang’s Still Here

Rising out of the tail-end of the late 1970s Great Britain music scene (thus earning the “postpunk” label), Gang of Four combined dub reggae and punk, with funk undercurrents. The Leeds quartet provocatively named themselves after the cadre of Chinese Communist Party officials who wielded power in the 1960s. And while Gang of Four have

An Artist to Watch: Allen Stone

Look at photos of Allen Stone and read his bio, and neither will prepare you for his sound. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest in a sheltered, religious-based atmosphere, Stone somehow ended up sounding like Stevie Wonder. His gospel-oriented young days certainly informed his music, which is very much of a soulful nature. Unlike many

An Instructive Little Anecdote

Today I’d like to share a brief, second-hand story. It’s one that, I think, illustrates the perils of narrow-mindedness, of holding onto preconceived notions, of dismissing that which one doesn’t understand. I only heard the story told once, and it was a couple of weeks ago, so some of the details may be incorrect or

A Look Back at “Now Wave Sampler” (1979)

I’m not ashamed of my age: for most of 1979 I was fifteen years old. Living in the suburbs of Atlanta – even then very much a “car city” – I already had my learner’s permit. But one couldn’t drive without a license-carrying adult in the passenger seat, and I didn’t own a car, so

AmericanaFest Panel: Breaking Barriers Through #SocialNetworking

I recently had the pleasure and honor of joining a distinguished panel to discuss social networking as it applies as a tool for musicians. In addition to my years as a music journalist, I have nearly three decades’ practical experience in marketing and advertising, and have been a freelance web developer (my rarely-mentioned “day job”)