5 Tunes to Get You Movin’ on International Dance Day

Whether it be Zumba, ballet, belly dance, hip hop, shuffle dance or the waltz, we all have a sweet spot, or secret talent, for some kind of dance style! And even if you don’t think of yourself as a great dancer, you have to admit, dancing makes you feel alive, so why not get your groove on this Thursday for International Dance Day?

WJ3 All Stars – I’m An Old Cow Hand

Originally sung by Bing Crosby in 1936 for the movie, Rhythm on the Range, this rollicking tune was a huge hit in its day and could always get people clapping and tapping their toes. Now, nearly a century later, the song is brought back to life by world-class artists, Willie Jones III and his All-Stars. This smooth and snazzy rendition is a great song to warm up those dancing muscles of yours!

Fred Astaire – The Way You Look Tonight

We all know and love the Frank Sinatra version of this song. It’s a staple at most weddings is a very popular first dance song. But did you know that “The Way You Look Tonight” was first performed by Fred Astaire in the 1936 movie “Swing Time” and that it won the Academy Award for the Best Original Song? Well, nothing says International Dance Day, like the famous dancer, Fred Astaire, for whom the ballroom dance franchise was named! You’ll definitely want to grab a partner and get on the dancefloor for this classic!

Little Willie John – I’m Shakin’ 

With the lyrics, I got a knocking in my knees and a wobble in my walk, I just don’t know how this song won’t motivate you to get up and bust a move! Little Willie John, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, was a notable figure in R&B music of the 1950s, and he certainly knows how to give your legs the jitters!  

Lorca Hart Trio – Dayne

As part of their new Colors of Jazz album, the Lorca Hart Trio have created a vivid tribute to Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter, who were certainly some jazz stars that could get you on your feet! This upbeat, fast-paced song evokes the image of a bright yellow sports car, speeding down the road, and will be sure to have you twistin’ and groovin’, or at the very least, snapping your fingers along to the beat! 

Etta Jones – Till There Was You

Let’s slow things down a bit with this last one. Etta Jones’s lovely version of this 1957 song is so soft and heartwarming that it’ll make you just want to melt into the arms of your sweetheart during a slow dance, which to me sounds like the very best way to end a long night of movin’ and shakin’. 

If the songs by Lorca Hart Trio and WJ3 All Stars caught your fancy, then look no further. Both of these groups newest albums are available right now in our shop. And if you’d like to book one of our musicians for an upcoming party or event, contact us today.

Life is a Picnic! – Relaxing Tunes to Listen to on National Picnic Day

With the unpredictability of the weather nowadays, we have to seize any opportunity we can to go outside and have a picnic. So, in honor of National Picnic Day on April 23rd, go grab your friends and family this weekend, tell everyone to bring a dish to share, sit outside and bask in the sun while listening to these upbeat tunes! That is, as long as there’s not a random surprise blizzard… Let’s cross our fingers that doesn’t happen, and spring is here to stay!

Billie Jo Spears – Blanket On The Ground

Whether it be a handmaid quilt or the classic red and white checkers, nothing says picnic like a blanket on the ground. In reality though, this 1975 country hit is actually about a more adult type of picnic… it’s sung from the perspective of a middle-aged woman who convinces her hesitant husband to make love outdoors in the moonlight.

Bob Dylan – Forever Young

When I think about picnics, I also think about family reunions, conversations and laughs over paper plates of macaroni salad. So, what better way to enjoy a picnic than with this lovely song written in 1974 as a lullaby for Bob Dylan’s eldest son. “Forever Young” conveys the wishes and hopes that parents have for their children: May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung. 

The 5th Dimension – Stoned Soul Picnic

Tell you friends to hurry to the picnic because, as the 5th Dimension sings, There’ll be lots of time and wine, Red yellow honey, sassafras and moonshine. Gosh, that sure sounds like the type of picnic I’m looking for! Written by Laura Nyro and released by The 5th Dimension in 1968, this tune has a unique sound—a mixture of pop, R&B, soul, jazz, light opera and Broadway that’s referred to as “champagne soul.” 

Paul Simon – Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard

This 1972 folk rock song is a playful and lighthearted tunne about two boys who have broken a law at the schoolyard. When “mama pajama” finds out, she goes to the police station to report the crime. This song makes me think of all the horsing around and tomfoolery that kids can get up to at a picnic when their parents aren’t looking. And the percussion in is very unique for American pop music since it was created with a Brazilian friction drum called a cuica, which is often used in samba music.  

Janis Siegel, John Di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico – Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue

The original song, a lament on a lost love released by Crystal Gayle in 1977 probably wouldn’t typically be thought of as an upbeat, outdoorsy picnic song, but this new rendition from Janis Siegel, John Di Martino and Lonnie Plaxico is anything but blue! These world-class musicians de-ranged the song a bit in their version, making it faster paced, and they also end the tune with a huge party that features Aaron Heick on clarinet. You won’t want to miss this wildly exciting and jazzy spin on the old country hit!

If you’re looking for more snazzy country tunes to play during a picnic, you might want to check out Night Is Alive’s newest album, “Cryin’ In My Whiskey,” which features the vocals of Grammy-award-winner Janis Siegel, the piano of John Di Martino and the saxophone of Lonnie Plaxico! “Cryin’ In My Whiskey” is available in our store right now. Or if you’d like to book one of our lovely musicians for your picnic, please contact us today.

April Showers Bring May Flowers – 5 Rainy Day Songs

Just because it’s raining outside doesn’t mean that your mood has to be dreary and dark. Remember, April showers bring May flowers! Sometimes, a tough, gloomy period is watering the very seeds that’ll sprout and grow into something beautiful and joyous in the future, so go get yourself a nice warm cup of tea, snuggle up and listen to these lovely tunes on your rainy April day! 

Elvis – Pocketful of Rainbows

We all know and love the King of Rock and Roll, but have you ever listened to his lesser-known gem of a song, “Pocketful of Rainbows”? Released in 1960, this slower-paced tune is perfect for a rainy day inside. Like Elvis sings so beautifully, we need not worry whenever skies are gray above because we have a pocketful of rainbows and a heart full of love.

Otis Redding – Cigarettes and Coffee

From his 1966 “The Soul Album,” this song is a poignant meditation from the perspective of a man lingering in the early morning, sittin’ here talkin’ with my baby. The protagonist is in absolutely no rush to get started with his day. He sings to his darling about how grateful he is that she’s in his life, and how grateful he is for this simple moment together: I’ve known nothing but good old joy since I met you… I would love to have another drink of coffee, now, and please, darling, help me smoke this one more cigarette. 

Lorca Hart Trio – Dew Drop

As the Lorca Hart Trio proves in this wonderful jazz song, released in 2020, a drop of dew can be oh so delicate, beautiful and precious. Slow down and notice the dew drops outside all around you, on flowers, leaves, branches. A dew drop is in no hurry to go anywhere, it just exists in that very moment, which is exactly what you can do on this drizzly day. 

Etta James – A Sunday Kind of Love

I don’t know about you, but this song is a staple on my rainy Sunday morning playlist. Etta James’s powerful voice and the clever lyrics in this 1960 tune just soften and warm my heart into butter. But did you know that Etta James was not the first artist to release this song? It was actually composed by Barbara Belle, Anita Leonard, Stan Rhodes and Louis Prima and published in 1946. Many musicians like Fran Warren, Ella Fitzgerald and The Del Vikings came out with versions of this beloved song.

WJ3 All Stars – First Time I Saw Your Face

This slow, smooth song from WJ3 All Stars’ newest album, “Lovers & Love Songs” will have you reminiscing on the very first time that you ever met your darling—the twinkling in his or her eyes, the dimples on the cheeks and the smile that stole your heart forever. This song is perfect for cuddling up next to your loved one and savoring all those sweet memories you have together. 

If you’re looking for more soft jazz songs to keep you nice and cozy during all the rainy days this April, I would recommend the WJ3 All Stars’ album “Lovers & Love Songs” and the Lorca Hart Trio’s “Colors of Jazz.” Both are available in our store right now and on all major music platforms!

4 Songs that Tell Stories for World Book Day

There’s nothing like a good book to pull you out of life and transport you to another reality. Whether it be Twilight, Ready Player One, Pride and Prejudice or the Handmaid’s Tale, there’s a story out there for everyone. But did you ever realize that some of the best songs also tell a story? I don’t know about you but when I was growing up listening to country music, that was my favorite part—the ability to learn about someone’s life story in the short span of just a few minutes. Well, today, in honor of World Book Day, celebrate on April 23rd, we’re bringing you four songs that tell some really resonating stories. 

Tracy Chapman – Fast Car

This is a gritty, realistic story of a woman trying to escape from the vicious cycle of poverty. The protagonist’s mother left the family, and her father is an alcoholic, so she quit school to take care of him. One day, the narrator hopes that she and her lover will drive away in a fast car, just ‘cross the border and into the city. She imagines a whole different life for them: you and I can both get jobs and finally see what it means to be living. This poignant 1988 folk-rock song conveys a sense of hope and optimism towards the future. 

Randy Travis – Three Wooden Crosses

“Three Wooden Crosses” is the tragic story four passengers—a farmer on vacation, a teacher seeking higher education, a sex worker and a preacher, all of whom were searing for lost souls on a late-night bus trip from the U.S. to Mexico. There’s a fatal accident when the bus is hit by an 18-wheeler, and three of the passengers are killed. And that’s all I’m going to tell you for now—you’ll have to listen to the rest of the song to find out what happened to the person who survived… and there’s a few surprising plot twists!

Bobbie Gentry – Fancy

This Southern Gothic style song is a narrative told from the perspective of a woman in her thirties named Fancy, who is looking back on the summer she turned 18. It’s a memorable story about a woman using sex work to overcome childhood poverty. Bobbie Gentry, the country star from small town Mississippi, wrote and recorded the song in 1969. 

Gentry sings that Fancy grew up in “a one room, rundown shack on the outskirts of New Orleans.” Fancy’s mother spends her last penny on a dancing dress and tells her daughter to “start sleeping uptown” and “just be nice to the gentlemen, Fancy, and they’ll be nice to you.” Eventually, from her relationships with wealthy, powerful men, Fancy comes to own a Georgia mansion and a New York City townhouse. 

Janis Siegel, John Di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico – Where Do I Put His Memory?

There’s no sadder story than the story of losing a loved one. With its poignant lyrics, this country song, written by Jim Weatherly and first released by Charlie Pride in 1979, touches on the human condition and the persistence of memory. And now, the story is being retold in this new rendition from the 2021 album “Cryin’ In My Whiskey.” In this version, John Di Martino arranged the song in a Venezuelan joropo rhythm, and New York City guitarist Jesse Lewis is also featured! 

If you’re looking for more jazzy retellings of classic country stories, look no further than the album “Cryin’ In My Whiskey,” which is available in our story right now!

John di Martino Post #2

Ah, the sweet bliss of a Friday afternoon. Nothing beats it. Except maybe this Friday feature with New York City based musician, John Di Martino. 

If you read last week’s feature, you’ll know that Martino is more than just a jazz pianist, he is also a composer, arranger and producer. But did you know that Martino also has worked in a wide range of musical genres? 

Martino has a long collaboration with percussionist and musicologist, Bobby Sanabria. Together in 2000, they produced the album “Afro-Cuban Dream: Live & In Clave!!!” which was nominated for a Grammy award and received critical acclaim for its progressive approach to the art of the big band. Martin is also active on the world beat scene, working with South African bassist Bakithi Kumalo. 

More recently, Martino has been exploring the fusion of country western and jazz music in the new album, “Cryin’ In My Whiskey.” Released by Night Is Alive, this album also features the vocals of Janis Siegel and the bass of Lonnie Plaxico. “Cryin’ in My Whiskey” is just what we need to be listeninng to right now in order to celebrate this (hopefully) post-covid era. The songs on this album tell the stories of country classics with a jazz twist. You won’t want to miss it! 

“Cryin’ In My Whiskey” is available at https://nightisalive.com/portfolio/cryin-in-my-whiskey/ and all major online music platforms. 

What music inspires the versatile John Di Martino you may wonder? Well, look no further, we have the answers you’re looking for below:

  • Besides jazz, what genres of music do you like to listen to? 
    • I love to listen to classical music, world music—I really love all music!
  • Who are some other musicians that inspire you? 
    • I am inspired by Herbie Hancock, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Gil Evans, John Coltrane, Bela Bartok & many others!
  • What is your favorite tune from Cryin’ In My Whiskey
    • I love all the tracks, but I will say: “Break It To Me Gently.”

4 Country Jazz Tunes to Celebrate National Beer Day

We all know about Oktoberfest in Germany, but did you know that the U.S. celebrates National Beer Day on April 7th? It commemorates the day in 1933 that the prohibition on selling beer was lifted. “I think this would be a good time for a beer,” President Roosevelt famously said upon signing the legislation.

A man in Virginia named Justin Smith first unofficially celebrated Beer Day in 2009 and since then it has gained official recognition by the state of Virginia and is toasted to by brew aficionados all over the country. 

Who wants to miss out on an excuse to drink and be merry? This Wednesday, go to the brewery or beer store nearest to you and pick up a growler of your favorite beer—whether that be an IPA, ale, lager or pilsner—and kick back with some friends in the backyard while listening to these folksy jazz tunes! 

Ray Charles – Oh, Lonesome Me

Partly inspired by his small southern hometown, Charles came out with the album Modern Sounds in Country Music in 1962, which was a groundbreaking fusion of genres. It was so successful that Charles came out with a second volume of country jazz music, from which comes this song, “Oh, Lonesome Me.” 

First written and recorded in 1957, this song is a fun, lighthearted lament of unrequited love that’ll pair well with a fruity, full-bodied amber ale! 

Willie Nelson – Georgia On My Mind

From his 1978 album, Stardust, comes this brilliant reinvention of the popular Ray Charles song, “Georgia On My Mind.” Nelson’s rendition features harmonica solos, which really adds that country flavor. Grab a piney IPA and enjoy that hop flavor while you get lost in Nelson’s weather-beaten voice. 

Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler – There’ll Be Some Changes Made

In 1990, Chet Atkins, also known as “Mr. Guitar” and “The Country Gentleman,” joined forces with Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler to create the Grammy-award-winning album Neck and Neck. From this album comes the song “There’ll Be Some Changes Made,” which is a country version of the jazz standard originally published in 1921. Listen to this friendly tune while drinking a classic long neck lager!

Janis Siegel, John Di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico – He Stopped Loving Her Today

Named in several surveys as the greatest country song of all time, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” was released in 1980 by George Jones. When vocalist Janis Siegel first heard the song, she was struck—the story simply grabbed her and inspired her to collaborate with John Di Martino and Lonnie Plaxico on this new jazzy rendition, featured in their 2021 album, “Cryin’ In My Whiskey.” The ambiguous lyrics and Siegel’s lovely voice make it a perfect song to pair with a smooth, golden pilsner!

If you’re looking for some more country jazz tunes to create the best beer-drinking ambience, look no further. “Cryin’ In My Whiskey,” the newest release from Night Is Alive, features many country classics, like “Always On My Mind,” “Break it to Me Gently” and “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” all with a funky jazz twist. “There’s nothing out there like this,” said Kathy Salem, the Producer and Managing Director. “I wanted this music to be accessible by all.”

“Cryin’ In My Whiskey” is available in our store right now and on all major music platforms! 

John Di Martino Post #1

The weekend is finally here! Thank goodness! Now it’s time to have some fun and get to know this creative jazz pianist, John Di Martino. 

Martino was born and raised in Philadelphia, and as a teenager he spent most of his time at local jazz clubs, where he still returns to work on occasion. Martino eventually moved to New York City, where he is now based, and began his career.

Described as a “shape-shifter,” Martino is known for occupying many different realms as a composer, arranger, jazz pianist and producer. As a jazz pianist, he’s performed and recorded with famous musicians like Eddie Gomez, Kenny Burrell and James Moody. As a musical director, he has accompanied Dianne Schuur and Jon Hendricks. 

We’re lucky enough to feature this world-class pianist, who has performed in China and Carnegie Hall, on our newest album, “Cryin’ In My Whiskey.” Also featuring the vocals of Janis Siegel, this album is a blend of country western and jazz music that is full of classics you’re sure to recognize, like “Always On My Mind” and “I Fall To Pieces.” 

I know it’s Friday and we don’t want to think about next week yet, but the tunes from “Cryin’ In My Whiskey” will make your commute to work on Monday feel like a luxurious cruise.    

“Cryin’ In My Whiskey” is available at https://nightisalive.com/portfolio/cryin-in-my-whiskey/

and all major online music platforms. 

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We got to sit down and pick Martino’s brain. Check out his answers below!

  • What are you most looking forward to in the coming months? 
    • I look forward to the return of live gigs and touring, but much more recording in the meantime!
  • Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for young musicians? 
    • Find your unique ‘God-Given’ voice and trust in it! The practice of imitation is only a tool for learning!
  • What is your favorite tune from Cryin’ In My Whiskey
    • I love all the tracks, but I will say: “Break It To Me Gently”