What are some camping essentials?

Whether you plan on glamping in a pod, or camping in a pop-up tent, bubble tent, Coleman tent, yurt, or RV, there are some things that you just must absolutely pack. Essential camping gear includes some obvious stuff like sleeping bags, sleeping pads, folding chairs, a cooler, and sunscreen, but also don’t forget the less obvious things, like a headlamp, flashlight or lantern and extra batteries. No one wants to be wandering in the dark in the dead of night looking for the bathroom! Also, what about a hammock, clothesline, and a tarp to block your tent from the sun and rain? 

In addition to all these essentials, make sure to bring firewood, newspaper and a lighter because nothing beats telling stories and singing songs around the campfire. Oh, and that reminds me, music is also essential! Charge up that portable, water-resistant speaker because you’ll definitely want to be blasting these tunes while you’re roasting marshmallows, drinking beer and counting stars in the summer sky! 

Tim McGraw – Where The Green Grass Grows

Just like Tim McGraw sings in his 1998 hit, living in the city can be draining—there’s concrete growin’ in the city park, six lanes, taillights and you don’t know who your neighbors are. It’s nice to get a break from the hustle and bustle and go camping—take a deep breath, point your rockin’ chairs towards the West and plant your dreams where the peaceful river flows. 

Nancy Sinatra – Sugar Town

An icon of the Swinging Sixties, Nancy Sinatra became popular for her punchy rock songs like “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.” So, with its cute, easy sunshine feel, this 1967 release was a bit of a surprise. But little do many listeners know that “Sugar Town” is a double entendre about LSD. Young people in the sixties used to drop liquid LSD onto sugar cubes, so the simplistic lyrics, like, I just lay back and laugh at the sun pack more of a punch than you would’ve thought!

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Down On The Corner

You’ve probably heard this classic rock and roll song at bars, barbecues, and outdoor parties, but have you ever really listened to the lyrics? The 1969 hit tells the story of a fictional band called Willy and the Poor Boys, who play on street corners in hopes of cheering people up. They may be called the Poor Boys, but this group was rich in music—according to the tune they played the harp, Kalamazoo, washboard, and bass!

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

At the end of the night, it’s nice to slow down and listen to something more melancholy while you gaze at the moon and contemplate life or a lost love. And this brand-new rendition of the famous 1979 George Jones song has a smooth, jazzy feel to it that’ll be a pleasant change from all the country tunes you’ve probably been listening to while camping. 

If you’re looking for more jazzy versions of classic country songs, check out our newest release, Cryin’ In My Whiskey, which is available in our store and on all major music platforms. And if you’d like to book one of our lovely musicians for your camping trip, contact us today! 

What songs should you play at your wedding reception?

Your Facebook feed is probably brimming with photos of brides glowing in white gowns, bridesmaids in pastels and grooms grinning in their tuxes at the end of the aisle. Yes, you know what that means—wedding season is in full swing! 

With all the “I dos,” bridal showers, wedding cakes, glittery jewelry, decorations, and receptions, you may find yourself thinking about your own wedding plans. Whether you’re engaged, awaiting or planning a proposal, in a committed relationship, or you just simply enjoy daydreaming about your own special day, it’s never too early to start thinking about what songs you might want to play at your wedding! Or maybe you’re serving as a maid-of-honor or best man sometime soon and you need to help the lucky couple make their playlist. Either way, we put together some classic wedding songs that are sure to put hearts in everyone’s eyes.  

Earth, Wind & Fire – September

This song is great for the bridal party to make their grand entrance or to help open the dance floor because everyone instantly recognizes it. Once they hear those first notes on the keyboard and that famous line—Do you remember, 21st night of September?—your guests will be pulling each other onto the dancefloor as fast as they can! Who knows, maybe your crabby, old uncle will even surprise you all with some groovy, disco moves! 

Elvis Presley – Can’t Help Falling in Love

It’s always difficult choosing a song for the newlyweds first dance. Maybe you have that one, specific tune that played on the radio during your first date, or that one song that you both love belting at the top of your lungs in the car. Or maybe, you’re not a very musically inclined couple and you’re drawing a blank. Well, you can’t go wrong with this 1961 Elvis ballad, the melody of which is actually based on a popular French song composed in 1784—who knew? 

Frank Sinatra – The Way You Look Tonight

This 1964 classic is perfect to play for the mother-son or father-daughter dance, which usually happens sometime after the first dance. You know that the parents are cherishing and soaking up every single moment of their children’s big day and that some day when they’re awfully low, when the world is cold, they’ll be thinking of the way that their child looked on their wedding night.  

Ray LaMontagne – You Are the Best Thing

This upbeat folk single, released in 2008, is honestly one of my favorites and it’s very versatile—could be nice for a slow dance or a group bridal party dance. Ray LaMontagne’s gravelly voice, the sweet lyrics and guitar create such a beautiful love song. The way you move me, it’s crazy…

WJ3 All Stars – First Time I Saw Your Face

This lovely instrumental jazz song is excellent for a swaying slow dance, or even to have as a backdrop during the cake cutting festivities. The heartwarming melody will bring you and your guests on a romantic journey through the ages!

If you’re looking for more love songs, I’d check out the new album from the WJ3 All Stars, Lovers and Love Songs! It’s available in our store and on all major music platforms. And if you’d like to book one of our musicians for your wedding reception, please contact us today!  

What music should you listen to while fishing?

Whether you like fly fishing or bait fishing, whether you’re an expert or an amateur, there’s nothing like grabbing your rod and tackle on a cool summer morning and casting your line out into the water. Who knows what you’ll catch? Well actually, according to the expert anglers, the best species to target in summertime are bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish and northern pike. But now you’re probably wondering, what music are you going to listen to while you wait for that first bite, that first nibble, that first yank to pull at your line? Well, we got you covered with some classic tunes that might even get the fish to dance!  

Taj Mahal – Fishin’ Blues 

This 2004 rendition of the 1928 blues song is an absolute staple in your fishing tackle box! Taj Mahal, a widely influential blues musician, has a rich voice and 50-year career that infuses sounds from the Caribbean, Africa, India, Hawaii and the South Pacific. Plus, he has the experience to back up the lyrics of this tune—he lived in Kauai, Hawaii in the 1980s, where he formed the Hula Blues Band, which was a group of guys that originally got together to fish and have a good time. Caught a seven poun’ catfish on the bottom, yes he got him…

Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby – Gone Fishin’

When two legends like Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby got together to make a duet for Crosby’s radio show in 1951, the result was unsurprisingly marvelous, instantly popular and eventually, timeless. Gone Fishin’ was published the year prior and recorded by other musicians but did not chart the tops until these powerhouses took it up. And now, the tune is still frequently heard on the radio. 

Janis Siegel, John di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico – Always on My Mind

Although this song is not technically about fishing, what is fishing if not a solitary activity? Many people go fishing in order to escape the craziness of life and enjoy the peace and quiet of the glassy pond or the soothing rush of the river rapids. So, why not slow down the pace of your music as well with this classic ballad? Maybe even take some time to reflect on a lost love with this modern jazz version of the iconic Willie Nelson song. It even features a lovely flute solo that will dance around in your clear, uncluttered mind.  

Louis Jordan – Saturday Night Fish Fry

This is a perfect tune to play when the fishing day is nearing its end and you’re getting ready to go home and celebrate all your catches! Arguably the very first rock ‘n roll record ever, this 1949 song features electric guitar, a brisk tempo and bass, all of which later became main components of the genre. Or if you’re not quite ready to go home yet, the pulsing beat of Saturday Night Fish Fry just might make the fish jump right onto your hook—hey, you never know, the bluegill might want to rock and roll too! 

If you’re looking for more country jazz tunes to jam while you fish and patiently wait for that prize-winning catch, Cryin’ In My Whiskey is available now in our store and on all major music platforms. 

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!