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What I Learned from Watching the Grammys

Stef's thoughts on the 2013 Grammy Awards: 1. While running in place and performing a song that references Forrest Gump make sure you have warmed up.  It could go terribly wrong.

2. When giving an acceptance speech always thank the swap meet!

3. Deep side parts on men aren’t so bad after all.

4. Butterflies being projected onto an oversized white prom dress is a letdown.

5. You can stop the entire show by walking out in a black hoodie, black shades, and a cane.

But your name has to be Prince.

6. There is a country version of Justin Beiber.  Yikes.

7. John Mayer looks like Edward Scissorhands more than ever!  Bigger YIKES.

8. You are golden if you get asked to do a tribute.

9. Finally, I STILL want one of my own! LL said it best at the beginning of the night. “A Grammy isn’t a shiny thing to hold onto.  A Grammy is a dream come true.”

Cheers to all of the inspiring performances and congrats to the winners. Till next year…

Stefanie

Cover Up #5: "Wrong Side Of A Love Song" by Melanie Fiona

We're switching up the format this week a little bit. Instead of the normal behind-the-scenes video from our rehearsal space, we thought we'd take this one right to the stage and share it with you from there. From last night's show at Martyrs in Chicago (thanks to a fantastic crowd, btw), here's Melanie Fiona's "Wrong Side Of A Love Song."

Call Girl Remixes Part 2

Deep&Disco is releasing part 2 of the "Call Girl" remixes on vinyl this coming Monday, 1/28. We really enjoyed Part 1 when it came out last June--the second half won't dissapoint. The 12" includes three remixes plus the original from Gets Over You. My personal fave is by UK's Hot Toddy. Check it out:

We're already getting great reviews on the remix package. Piccadilly Records in the UK had the following to say:

*STOP PRESS* These guys are gonna be huge, you heard it here first. Following on from Dave Walker's 'if Goat don't make the end of year chart I'm running down Market St. wearing nothing but a Goat's head' challenge. Then if this 12" isn't one of the twelve’s of the year, then I will, in turn, be 'a call girl' - for one night only though.

Shucks :) Preview all the tunes and pick up the 12" from Juno records here.

2012: Wrapped Up!

Taking some time on this New Year's eve to lay down a bit of what The Right Now did this year. We've been doing these year-end wrap ups since 2008 or so, and I'm thinking we can probably be more concise as the years go by. The first years consisted largely of "We played a gig! And people clapped! And then we drove a few hours and played another gig! And people clapped again! Can you believe it?!" They were basically 7-page essays that affirmed that yes, we are in fact a band doing things that bands do. This year will be wildly, dramatically different, I'm sure. I've got my Seasonal Ale from Anchor at hand, Cody Chesnutt's new Landing On A Hundred album on the stereo, and hopefully you're equipped similarly. Let's get to it.

For starters, The Right Now Gets Over You came out this year and we saw it hit the radio waves and grow in some new ways. There were a few remixes of "Call Girl" courtesy of Jason Kriv, Scott Wozniak, and a few other DJs, and there are plans for more. Hearing your own music remixed by someone else is an interesting experience - hearing what bits they highlighted, how they took apart your Lego project and built a new one with the same pieces. We started incorporating some of the remixed grooves into our live performance of the song - and that moment, switching from the original arrangement to the remix, was always a show highlight for me. One of those "Woo!" moments.

Making Gets Over You was a huge departure from the way we made our first album, Carry Me Home. With a minimum of overdubs and more of a live-in-the-room feel, there was a bigger emphasis on the performance. People mostly reacted well to the change; I'm sure the third album will take yet another approach. Radio stations like 88.9 Radio Milwaukee, CHIRP, KDHX, and WNCW really got behind the album, and we're really grateful for that. While that was happening, we started hearing reports of Carry Me Home songs showing up in all kinds of places - an episode of 90210, overhead speakers in Talbott's, Kohl's, Applebee's, and tons of other spots. Crazy what a publicist and a placement specialist can do for a band!

The other exciting development around Gets Over You was the distribution that we worked out with United Record Pressing. Not only did they help us get our "He Used To Be/Good Man" 7-inch single listed as an official Record Store Day release, but they helped distribute the album to brick-and-mortar stores all over the US and in Europe.

If you're reading this, chances are you've already seen our first music video for "He Used To Be," which came out earlier this year. We started out with a tiny budget and very modest goals - basically, just use some live footage from one of our Double Door shows, cut it with shots of Stef lip-synching the song, and have something that we could pass around youtube. Stef herself headed up the creative process, and with the help of Cameron Yergler, ended up with an actual video with a storyline and ever'thang. It was way beyond what we originally envisioned.

Hey, nice work, Stef and Cameron! Cheers to doin' somethin'.

We played only 48 shows in 2012 - way fewer than we've played in past years - but man, what great shows they were. We definitely traded quantity for quality, at least in terms of career advancement, accommodations, and overall niceness. The summer consisted mostly of festival gigs which were sweaty, but had some of the best audiences we've ever seen. Along the way, we got to share the stage with some really great acts - let the name dropping begin:  Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 (who put on a stupendous show), Lee Fields & The Expressions, Escort (featuring Jason Kriv of our Call Girl remixes on bass), Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Soulive, Souljazz Orchestra (don't confuse 'em), and at one festival, we played an afternoon set and caught Mr. John Legend later that night. We also opened for Grammy winner Ryan Shaw - and Stef got to sing "We've Got Love" as a duet with him, nearly 5 years after The Right Now (then known as Eli Jones) covered it at one of our shows. We also got to play a couple gigs with some of our favorite soul comrades: Bashiri Asad and DeRobert & The Half Truths. That particular triple-bill is just killer; hopefully we'll do more of those. There was the Record Release Party for Gets Over You, the MCA/Beastie Boys tribute show, a killer session at Audiotree with some real pretty video, and our first gigs on the west coast including a wedding attended by Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. Surprisingly, Kyra's the better dancer. No, we didn't play Footloose.

We dipped in and out of using in-ear monitors onstage, courtesy of TRN family and FOH engineer Joe Shambro. For our Record Release show at Lincoln Hall, we had 12 musicians all with their own mix on in-ear monitors...no small feat, but it worked beautifully. Shambro!!

Behind the scenes, we had plenty going on too. While catching the Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues, Stef (along with others) got invited up to sing with the choir, and then she (sans the others) got invited to join the choir - so now when anyone hits Chicago's Gospel Brunch at HoB, they'll see Stef as part of the Determined choir. Killer!  And Brendan, our keyboardist and bandleader, is going to be a father early next year; a role he's seemingly been preparing for for years.

Did I say something at the beginning about conciseness? Did I make this exact same apology in last year's write-up? Shit.

Well as we're fond of saying every year, we met so many great people in 2012, and we can't wait to meet more in 2013. If you came to a show, heard us on the radio and checked us out, told a friend, bought our album, or anything -  we feel all of that and we appreciate it more than we can say. Next year, it's a big format switch for The Right Now, into youtube-only K-Pop releases!

SONG OF THE WEEK: GARY CLARK JR.'S "BLAK AND BLU"

I shied away from Gary Clark Jr. initially. He seemed like another blase guitar hero heralded by Eric Clapton, Rolling Stone, etc, and that didn't really interest me. Man was I wrong. I love his album Blak and Blu (especially the title track which is my song of the week pick). I don't really know how to describe this guy: he writes songs for Alicia Keys; guests on stage with the Stones; does awesome covers of Hendrix; has RIDICULOUS guitar tone; does the worn blues rock thing incredibly well; incorporates R&B production worthy of John Legend or Frank Ocean; and on and on. He appeals to old dudes (sorry dad & Bob Lefsetz) that miss straight-ahead rock n' roll from the 60s and 70s and to fans of contemporary R&B. Simply, it's the shit. He writes great songs, plays well, and sings well. If this guy is on a major then there is still hope, folks. Check it:

SONG OF THE WEEK: CODY CHESNUTT'S "I'VE BEEN LIFE"

Cody Chesnutt burst onto the national scene in 2002 when his song "The Seed" was remade for The Roots' LP Phrenology. That was one of the feel good jams of that year and brought a lot of exposure to Cody's The Headphone Masterpiece. He dropped off the radar in the last ten years, but he's back with an excellent album called Landing On A Hundred. I was surprised (although I shouldn't be since this is 2012) that the record was crowd-funded via Kickstarter. He recorded it at the infamous Royal Recording Studios in Memphis, which gave birth to the big hits of Al Green, Otis Clay, Syl Johnson and countless others. Cody's album has a warm retro feel without being derivative. It's excellent. "I've Been Life" is one of my favorites from the new material. It's a tribute to the African continent and the lyrics are heartfelt:

Since the change I’ve been a prisoner of a prisoner A free hand as a prisoner A believer and a teacher Since my birth I've been the greatest

Here it is:

- Brendan

 

JKriv's Song of the Week: Personal Touch's "It Ain't No Big Thing"

Ed. note: Jason Kriv (aka JKriv) brings you the post this week. His label Deep&Disco put out the "Call Girl" remixes. He also plays bass in Escort and will be performing with the disco group and TRN this Friday at The Metro. "Personal Touch - It Ain't No Big Thing" 1976 - PAP Records Written/Produced - Patrick Adams Arranged by Leroy Burgess

No self-respecting disco/funk/soul DJ is gonna be caught dead playing the 30 records you're liable to hear at a bar mitzvah.  Then again, some of those dusty cuts that crate-digging DJs spend their careers (and bank accounts) trying to unearth are rare for a reason, and better left to obscurity.  Here's one from Patrick Adams' ample oeuvre that never made it into the pop consciousness but is definitely worth a dusting-off.  To me this tune captures a moment in musical history perfectly:  1976, when R&B became disco.

-JKriv

Cover Up #1: "No One" by Alicia Keys

Is there a cover song you've always wanted to hear Stefanie sing? Hit us up (leave a comment or email us at info@therightnow.com) and we'll feature it on our brand new blog series, Cover Up. Fans have been asking Stef to cover Alicia Keys for years, so we decided to start it out with "No One."

Now don't be shy...let us know what you want to hear!

- Brendan

Sage advice from cranky old Lefsetz

It's been forever since we've done a blog post outside of "Song of the Week." This isn't really a post either, but I think it's pretty important stuff. Entertainment lawyer Bob Lefsetz writes a daily email called The Lefsetz Letter that goes out to almost anyone who gives a shit about music business. He can be surly and mean-spirited, or wise and illuminating. An email from last week was the latter. Bob goes down the list of Billboard Top 100 records, explaining both massive (Mumford & Sons) and underwhelming numbers (Aimee Mann). His closing paragraphs are just perfect. Our band has been going back to the drawing board recently and thinking a lot about what makes us special & unique, and how we can capture that in music that essentially ours. Better to spend 10 hours in the rehearsal space rather than 10 minutes emailing potential booking agents or managers. Ah...growing pains.

Take it away, Bob.

Assuming you're good, and for the umpteenth time I will say you're probably not, Aimee Mann and Richie Sambora could compose circles around you in their sleep and they can't get arrested, what you're looking for is a reaction. If you've got none, go back to the drawing board. If you play your music for someone and they don't start jumping up and down, clamoring for more, you didn't get it right. Not in a commercial sense. And by commercial I mean earning enough to eat. You wanna do it in private, think it's great, be my guest. But unless you're suddenly consumed by rabid fans asking for more, either give up or get ready for a very long journey.

That's what you want. People so rabid to hear it that they spread it. That's what broke Mumford. It wasn't their tweeting or social networking, it was the honesty of their music and message, in a phony world, their fans couldn't stop spreading the word.

But to follow Mumford you have to give up everything you know. You've got to stop going on singing shows. You've got to stop angling for a major label record deal. You've got to stop haranguing gatekeepers to give you a chance. It's only you and your music, in a world that doesn't need it. We need food and water, we don't need your music, it's a luxury item. But can you somehow make it necessary? Can it stand alone?

Advertising doesn't sell ice cream, it's the experience itself. It's just so damn good... Let me tell you about Phish Food, mmm, with chocolate and marshmallow and little chocolate goldfish... You see what I'm doing? I'm salivating, I'm trying to convince you to try it, not because I'm being paid by Ben & Jerry's but because I want you too to experience the joy. And then I want to be in a club of like-minded people with you. That's the music game.

SONG OF THE WEEK: ROBERTA FLACK & DONNY HATHAWAY'S "BACK TOGETHER AGAIN"

Herb Kent did it again. The King of the Dusties played this week's tune on v103 during our drive home from Saint Louis on Sunday. Greg and I heard "Back Together Again" last Sunday as well and marveled at the ridiculous bass playing (it's Tinker Barfield for all you concerned music nerds). Roberta and Donny did this tune on Roberta Flack featuring Donny Hathaway, their second duets LP. It's a great dance track and the bass sits ever so slightly ahead of the beat. Get out of your chair for this one!

SONG OF THE WEEK: THE BOBBETTES' "MR. LEE"

There's something comforting about driving back to Chicago on Sunday after being on the road on Saturday night. It's a great feeling to get out of Indiana, head over that nameless bridge, and glimpse our magnificent skyline. Without fail our soundtrack is always set by the King of the Dusties, the Mayor of Bronzeville, Herb Kent on v103. Herb is a radio legend and his taste is impeccable. If you live in Chicago and need a pick me up on the weekends, tune in to 102.7 FM and thank me later. Herb played The Bobbettes' "Mr. Lee" last weekend. I hadn't heard this before and really dug it.

- Brendan

SONG OF THE WEEK: DUMPSTAPHUNK'S "Everybody Wants Sum"

Funk is probably one of the most overused, and poorly applied, words in the music lexicon. So many bands have used it to describe their genre (and have done so inappropriately) that it's become pretty watered down and lost its meaning. I mean country funk? Really? But then there's Dumpstaphunk. Now THIS is a funk band. Stinky, low dow, nasty, greasy, New Orleans music. The grooves are simple and the tempos simmer just so. We saw them in Dayton at the Downtown Revival last weekend. Even without their guitarist Ian Neville (screw you Delta Airlines!), they put on an amazing show. To say that everyone in this band is a ringer is kind of an understatement: Ivan Neville on keys & Ian Neville on guitar ('nuff said); Tony Hall on bass/guitar (Daniel Lanois, Trey Anastasio Band, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris); Nick Daniels on bass (Neville Brothers bassist); and Nikki Glaspie on drums (Beyonce). The playing is simultaneously effortless and crushing.

Here's their tune "Everybody Wants Sum." They can sing their butts off as well.

TRN gets to share the stage with Dumpstaphunk this Friday September 14th at the lovely Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee. Tickets are still available here.