4 Tunes to Jam While You Work Out!

With the weather warming up and COVID cooling down, it’s a great time to grab those running shoes and hit the pavement, or to renew that lapsed gym membership, and burn off that pandemic fifteen! But what music to listen to? Maybe you’re not a fan of the popular workout mixes of our day and age—rap, hip-hop, dubstep—and want some fast-paced, upbeat tunes that have a more instrumental, jazzy, and classic feel to them. Well, look no further because we’ve got you covered!

Lorca Hart Trio – MoJoe

With the stay-at-home orders and limited access to gyms during the pandemic, many of us may’ve have lost our mojo when it comes to working out. But don’t worry, this song, a drum solo from Lorca Hart himself, will help you get your mojo back. Show everyone what you can do, just like those impressive drumbeats! 

Junkie XL, Elvis Presley – A Little Less Conversation

In 2001, Dutch musician Tom Holkenborg, better known as Junkie XL, was the first artist to receive authorization from the Elvis Presley foundation to remix an Elvis song. The product is an electronic, funky sound that lowers Elvis’s voice and draws even more attention to the lively guitars, horns and drumbeats from the 1968 tune. So, let’s listen to Elvis, and have a little less conversation, a little more action lifting those weights!

 

Chócala – Humboldt

This obscure jazz quartet from Charlotte, North Carolina produces a unique, energizing and vibrant sound, especially in this tune, which features fervent percussion, powerful vocals and smooth saxophone. In Spanish, ‘chócala’ means high-five, which is very fitting for this snappy, jubilant group that’ll make you want to high-five the person sweating on the treadmill next to you!

The Brian Setzer Orchestra – Jump, Jive an’ Wail

I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me want to move like some spirited swing music, especially when the refrain of the tune is telling me to jump, jive an’ wail! This swing and jump blues band covered Louis Prima’s 1956 song on their 1998 album The Dirty Boogie and the result is a fast-moving piece that’ll push you to finish out that last rep strong!
If you enjoyed these tunes and are looking for more enthusiastic music to motivate you to work out, I would recommend the Lorca Hart Trio’s album, Colors of Jazz, which features a variety of songs representing all the colors of the rainbow. Lorca Hart’s impassioned drumming will be sure to get you stepping back into your workout groove in no time! Colors of Jazz is available in our store right now and on all major music platforms.

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.

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!

Night is Alive @ Jazz Congress at Lincoln Center, New York

Night is Alive at Jazz Congress 2020 - Lincoln Center New York City

We’ve been having an amazing time at the 2020 Jazz Congress, hosted at the Lincoln Center, here in New York City. We’ve had the chance to listen and speak to so many gifted artists, teachers, mentors, and musicians. What can we say, it feels good to be inspired and to be surrounded by your peers. If you’re here with us, let us know! You can alwaaays drop us a line on our instagram at www.instagram.com/night_is_alive

4 Tips for taking care of your health while on tour

Touring takes planning and effort, and you’ll want to make sure everyone is firing on all cylinders when it comes time to perform. There’s a lot at stake, too, and you risk losing out on money and booking future gigs when you compromise your health on tour.

Eat healthy food

Just because you are on the road doesn’t mean that every meal should be fast food. You need to pack some healthy food and snacks, so you aren’t going to the only places open at 3 am. (None of them are healthy.) Bring a cooler so you have some fresh fruits to snack on throughout the day. Make the effort to go to a grocery store; not only will you save a lot of money, but also your body will thank you for the quality food.

Don’t drive for too long at one time

If you’re traveling with two or more people, be sure to switch drivers every few hours. Arriving safely at your gig and going to all the scheduled gigs on the tour should be the end goal of your drives. Staying awake and alert goes a long way for safety.

If you’re traveling alone in a car, you have fewer options. For more safety and less stress, you should take a break every two or three hours at least for a chance to rest your eyes, relax from the tension of the road, and stretch your legs.

Exercise when possible

Yes, you’ll be busy traveling around, but at some point, you will have some down time. Take a walk, even if it is just around the hotel property or to a nearby park. Most hotels have pools so pack a bathing suit and plan on taking a swim and unwinding in the hot tub. Exercise will help keep your mind engaged and your body functioning well, which will help to avoid getting sick.

20 minutes of walking once a day is great, if you can get more then you should.

Drink lots of water

Whether driving or on an airplane be sure to drink lots of water and stay hydrated.  Buy a bottle water and drink it during your flight.

Keep your blood circulating. Don’t sit in place for more than 3 hours whether driving or on a plane.

These rules may seem basic, but all of the musicians represented by Night is Alive follow them! How’s that for a #LushLife?

Learn more about our musicians and their schedules

What Makes Being a Musician So Great

Musicians are often the envy of the working world, and for good reason. Seriously, can you think of a more entertaining career? I doubt it. Here are a few solid reasons why music makers have the greatest jobs ever.

  1. Gratification and recognition. Your fans and peers express true interest and appreciation.
  2. Acceptance. Everyone wants to be accepted and have a sense of belonging somewhere in the world. Musicians are no exception and the music world is a very large and diverse place.
  3. Set your own hours. No punching a clock here. Just show up and do what you love every day.
  4. Day-to day variety. Not looking at the same cubicle’s interior every day. Something new every single day and this is how great memories are made.
  5. Meet and hang out with other cool musicians. Musicians are by far the most creative people on the planet. It is how their brains literally work and makes them exceptional at their craft.
  6. Inspire others. We all are looking for some inspiration at times and many times listening to a certain song or watching a performer can trigger some great inspiring life moments.

What about you? Why did you become a musician? Why do you think that being a musician is the greatest job ever? Have you had some great Gigs that you’d like to tell us about? Any tips you have for other aspiring musicians? Leave your most excellent comments below!

Where Did The Word “Gig” Even Come From?

Gig is slang for a live musical performance. Originally coined in the 1920s by jazz musicians, the term, short for the word “engagement”, now refers to any aspect of performing, such as assisting with and attending musical performance. More broadly, the term “gigging” means having paid work, being employed.

According to our friends at Wikipedia, the first documented use “gig” in this way appears in 1926: Melody Maker 7 September 1926, with the story byline stating, “One Popular Gig Band Makes Use of a Nicely Printed Booklet.”

Currently the term “gig” refers to a “set”, which is a term that comes from “set list,” which is a list of all the music that an individual or a band is going to play throughout the course of a performance.

In recent years, the term “gig” has been used in a broader context in the economy. Our new “Gig Economy” refers to the new reality that many people now work several jobs just to make ends meet.

Night is Alive books gigs for some of the highest-ranking jazz artists today. Learn how we can provide the right musician for your performance venue at our Contact page!

Top 5 Jazz Festivals for the Ultimate Jazz Lover

If “will travel for jazz” is your motto, you’re in the right place. We’re going to share some of the top jazz festivals from around the country, and the world,  that will probably be right up your alley. So, go get a good suitcase and make sure your passport is ready to go. We’re certain the urge to travel will be even stronger after you read this list.

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

Image result for Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

Of course, we have to start with what has been ranked as the world’s largest jazz festival. The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal was started back in 1979 and its goal was to bring some of the world’s best musicians to the public. Since then, festivalgoers have been treated to performances from the likes of Ray Charles, Chick Corea, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Tony Bennett, Pat Metheny group, Wynton Marsalis, Madeline Peyroux, Aretha Franklin, Esperanza Spaulding, Diana Krall and many more. The festival runs for 10 days in downtown Montréal towards the end of June. This year marks the festival’s 40th year.

Montreux Jazz Festival

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Montreux Jazz Festival

Created in 1967, the Montreux Jazz Festival takes place in Switzerland for two weeks in early July and it tends to draw more than 250,000 visitors each year. It’s been said to be one of Europe’s best-known events. While Montreux’s foundation was built on blues and jazz, many other genres have found a place at the festival as well. Montreux has seen historic performances by Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, and Stevie Wonder.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

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New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, or Jazz Fest, started in 1970 when George Wein, the jazz impresario behind the Newport Jazz Festival and the Newport Folk Festival was hired to design and produce a unique festival for New Orleans. Held during the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May, the festival has since turned into an epic event for the city and generates about $300 million dollars each year.

The Festival tends to blend a wide mix of well-known artists. Past performers include Dizzy Gillespie, Santana, Sarah Vaughan, Paul Simon, B.B. King, Dave Matthews Band, Tito Puente, Al Green, Lenny Kravitz, Abbey Lincoln, and Erykah Badu.

Newport Jazz Festival

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Newport Jazz Festival

The Newport Jazz Festival is held every summer in Newport, Rhode Island. It was established by socialite, Elaine Lorillard, back in 1954. It was the first outdoor music festival that was devoted entirely to jazz. Around 13,000 people attended the first festival. This year’s festival will be held August 2-4. Past performers include Roy Hargrove, Gregory Porter, Corinne Bailey Rae, Terence Blanchard, Herbie Hancock, Billie Holliday, Carmen McRae, Nina Simone, Muddy Waters, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Miles Davis, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Monterey Jazz Festival

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Monterey Jazz Festival

This year marks the Monterey Jazz Festival’s 62nd season. Founded in 1958, the festival has donated its proceeds to music education from the very start. Dave Brubeck was instrumental in getting city approval for the first festival. He even performed for the city council to persuade them to let it take place. He ended up performing at the Monterey Jazz Festival 14 times.

Five hundred top jazz artists perform on nine stages during the third weekend in September. In addition to the performances, the Monterey Jazz Festival features jazz conversations, panel discussions, workshops, exhibitions, clinics, and an international array of food, shopping, and festivities.

We know there are many more festivals out there for jazz lovers like you. Tell us. What are some of your favorite jazz festivals?

Are Artists Suffering from Streaming?

Who is really buying music?  Where the money comes from now.

The music industry has gone through some monumental changes in the past 20 years.  What was once driven by consumer purchases has now become a subscription-based model that eliminates the need for physical record stores.  For the vast majority of the modern music industry, selling records was the main business focus.  While some fans still prefer to purchase a hardcopy, the popularity of Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Pandora have opened up a new way to access artists’ material.  This computerized marketplace has begun a new debate within the music industry: how will artists get paid in the world of the digital download, and where does the money come from?

Without a doubt, the way most big acts make their money is touring.  Many artists are under the impression that when signing with a record label they will see profits once their album is live.  While a record label can legitimize an artist and help them launch their career, labels expect to be paid back for the money they put up for the new artist.  Even as the album begins to pick up steam and sell, the label is paid first. For example, the Black Eyed Peas didn’t see a big paycheck until their second hit album.  Touring is different. The artists are paid for the shows they do. The more shows they do, the more they make. U2 is one of the most successful bands, and it all comes from the groups’ dedication to hit the road and tour.  A recent Citigroup report stated that of the $43 billion in revenue the music industry produced in 2017, only 12% when to the artist. Of that 12%, touring was by far the most significant profit center for musicians. While streaming services are increasing in popularity, these earnings are not enough alone.  Album and soundtrack licensing sales usually come in second with streaming services, publishing, and merchandise sold at concerts following in that order.

Streaming through a music service has in many ways replaced the era of purchasing a record or CD.  Each of these streaming services, Pandora, Apple Music or the largest of the services Spotify, all have different pay scales.  For streaming services, it’s all about the number of requests for a particular song or artist. This is where a new artist will find it difficult to break in.  Many up and coming artists are not going to have enough requests on the platform to see any real money. Many streaming services do not count a song until it has reached 1000 requests.  These services benefit famous artist disproportionally from a new artist.

While there are still many methods for musicians to make a living, social media and the new marketing trends are leading the way.  Instagram, Facebook, and the 24/7 information cycle require musicians that want to reach the top to have a complete package to get there.       

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