Happy Mother’s Day! – 5 Jazz Songs to Warm Mom’s Heart

Are you feeling bombarded and overwhelmed by all of the advertisements for Mother’s Day gifts and flowers? Do you still not have a gift idea for mom? Maybe you weren’t able to visit with mom last year, due to concerns about COVID-19, and you want to make sure Mother’s Day 2021 is extra special. 

Well, don’t worry because sometimes it’s the simplest gifts that leave the longest lasting memories. Sometimes it’s about creating that perfect ambience by playing just the right songs. The songs that’ll speak to mom’s heart, get her eyes watering and her toes tapping.

Etta James – Tell Mama

This 1967 hit song still rocks out today! Etta James’s deep, powerful and gutsy vocals let you know that mama really is always on your side and always has your back, no matter what. This song is sure to get your Mother’s Day off to a groovy start! 

WJ3 All Stars – I’ve Never Been in Love Before

The jazz standard from 1950—recorded by stars like Bing Crosby, Doris Day and Chet Baker—has been brought back to life in this vivid rendition from Willie Jones III and his All-Stars! Whether this is the first time your mom is hearing this song, or if it’s a tune she knows and loves, the soft melody, saxophone and piano are sure to create a lovely atmosphere for chatting and reminiscing.

The Shirelles – Mama Said

This lively, poppy 1961 hit is a fun ode to all the moms out there who have given their children those unforgettable words of wisdom. And did you know that The Shirelles, famous for their rhythm & blues, doo-wop and soul music, are credited with the launch of the girl group genre? All I know is that I don’t worry ‘cause Mama said there’ll be days like this…

Gregory Porter – Mother’s Song

You probably recognize Gregory Porter from his albums, Liquid Spirit and Tame to the Alley, both of which won Grammys for Best Jazz Vocal Album, but I bet you haven’t heard this song from his 2012 album! Porter’s mellow and uplifting sound will make your mother feel cherished on her special day. Listen and gather ‘round me children, children of a mother whose life lifted up peace, a mother who taught all of her children to love and be loved by each other…

Lorca Hart Trio – Bye Ya

If your mom is anything like my mom, saying goodbye is an ordeal, an event, a process in which one gets initiated into another conversation, and gets just one more hug, before finally walking out the door. So, this Mother’s Day, say goodbye with a bang! “Bye Ya” comes from Lorca Hart Trio’s newest album Colors of Jazz. The swinging, upbeat tune represents the color orange and evokes the image of a jolly band leading a parade down a cobblestone street. Everyone is dancing merrily and marching happily to the beat of the drum solo. A cheering crowd lines the street, pressing together to watch the musicians pass, waving and laughing. Giggling children chase each other through the sea of legs. Now, that, to me, really sounds like the proper way to say goodbye to mom!

And if your mom is a lover of jazz music, you may want to browse around our store for some great gift ideas! “Colors of Jazz” and WJ3 All-Star’s album “Lover and Love Songs” are both available in our store right now, along with many other albums that’ll bring a bright smile to mom’s face. Or if you would like to book one of our lovely musicians for your Mother’s Day, 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!

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!