Make a joyful noise

This is the statement that is boldly proclaimed on the back of my lime green iPod.  And I love it.  Both the statement and the iPod.  I know I have an unnatural love for this gadget.  The first step is admitting it, right?

It’s been a hard couple of weeks.  Work is stressful.  Remember that little thing I love so much called the Offshore Technology Conference?  Well, it’s coming.  Coming to take me away.  In a straight jacket…

I digress.

The only thing that has saved me at work lately is the soft ambiance of my soothing music.  You all know that making playlists and mixed tapes is one of my spiritual gifts.  Well, I have one that is a glorious mixture of crooners and soul searchers with a little bit of soft jazz, acoustic piano and mellow country for good measure. It calms me.  And that’s a good thing when I’m wondering how the to-do list is going to get done when I have to categorize it by “hot”, “very hot” and “MUST GET OUT TODAY.”

I digress again.

This post is not about my ability to construct a decent OFFICE CHILL playlist.  It’s about four artists who hold special places on said OFFICE CHILL playlist.  These are the beloved musicians I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy in person recently.  If you don’t know who they are, it’s clear why you were lead to this website today.  You can thank me in the comment section after you experience their greatness.  I’m just saying.

AMOS LEE

I was first introduced to the music of Amos Lee two years ago when I friend of mine gave me a couple of his tracks on a burned CD for my birthday. Clearly I’m friends with this person because of his appreciation of a good mixed tape, but that’s not the point right now. The point is…I was hooked. He’s soulful, passionate, jazzy, bluesy and just plain smooth. He writes most of his stuff and you can feel the emotion in each and every verse. I saw him with about a million other people at The House of Blues and not since my experience seeing George Michael in concert did I scream for an encore with such vigor and conviction. And that’s when he played “Arms of a Woman.” I may, MAY, have had to take a seat because my knees went weak. Lord have mercy. Sadly, it was standing room only, so I had to lean against the stranger next to me. She totally understood.

Recommendations:
– Arms of a Woman
– Supply and Demand
– Careless
– Windows Are Rolled Down
– Night Train
– Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight

BILLY CURRINGTON

Let the record show that when it comes to country music, I will always prefer the old stuff to the “country” music that is played on the radio today. I grew up with Waylon, Willie and the boys playing in my house and old Chevy trucks my Daddy used to drive. However, when the 80s came, I embraced my jelly shoes, crimped hair, day glo t-shirt and Madonna gloves along with all of the righteous tunes that accompanied that decade. To the max. With high school came the rise of Seattle grunge. I was never a fan, so I made the switch back to country music, just in time to catch Garth Brooks thankfully before the Chris Gaines debacle. I’ve been a genre surfer since those years, but never really settled in to country music the way I love the classics.

With that said.
A. Look at this guy.
B. I mean really. Future IHGB Hall of Famer for sure.

I saw Billy and the Houston rodeo this year and I have to say that he is mighty good lookin’. That’s code for hot. Although he didn’t display a spunky personality, anyone who sings “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer” has to be President of their local Fun Club.

And look at him. I’m a fan.

Recommendations:
– Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer
– Good Directions
– Must Be Doin’ Something Right (I’ll say)
– Let Me Down Easy

ZAC BROWN BAND

Okay. I know I just went on about how I’m not die hard country and here’s another country selection. Hey. When you have friends who have friends who work at the rodeo, you get in free. (Thanks for the tickets Keri!) We were sitting near the chutes. The energy was palpable in Reliant Stadium. Everyone in Houston wanted to get their hands on Zac Brown tickets. And let me tell you…they did not disappoint. These guys sound EXACTLY like they do on their albums. And Zac Brown actually wears a beenie on his head even when it’s hot outside. I don’t get it. Trademarks are weird. Look at that contestent on American Idol trying to make “tails” happen. DUDE. THEY AREN’T GOING TO HAPPEN.

Not only do these guys sound great, but they are gifted musicians. And they play patriotic music and anyone who knows me understands my affection for our great country and anything that has to do with honoring the good ole’ USA through music. I think I cried twice. God bless AMERICA! I think there is a live version on iTunes. It will give you chills if you have any sort of American bone in your body.

Recommendations:
Even though I hate meat on the bone…
– Chicken Fried
– Whatever It Is
– Free
– Toes
– Highway 20 Ride
– Colder Weather

HARRY CONNICK, JR.

Be still my crooner loving heart. I loved him the minute he told me it had to be me during When Harry Met Sally. And I’ve been a fan since. His Christmas albums are amazing. His portrayal of Justin Matisse in Hope Floats is one of my favorite male leads in a romance movie. Anyone who can wear a cowboy hat like that, fish like that, build a house like that, push a girl around a dance floor like that, speak in a southern drawl like that…is certainly worthy of being my fake boyfriend and sole reason I own both the movie and the soundtrack in CD, VHS and DVD formats.

I digress.

After hearing Harry perform live here in Houston a few weeks ago, I was taken back to a different era. His latest album covers cocktail jazz songs made famous by the Rat Pack, Beatles and Elvis. And when he tapped into his New Orleans roots, a truly talented musician commanded the stage with lively piano licks, fierce brass and a toe-tapping beat. Above all else, he is an entertainer. Loved it. Loved him. Would have killed for a pair of teeny binoculars.

Recommendations:
– And I Love Her
– You Don’t Know Me
– It Had To Be You
– Wink and a Smile
– Entire NOLA album

I’m excited to report that I will be seeing two more live performances in June. No, no, it’s not Justin Bieber…but close. JOEY MCINTYRE! That’s right! I’m headed to the NKYTBSB concert this summer. But before, I’m going to continue my jazz, crooner, soul concert addiction and have scored tickets to Michael Buble in Austin.

You have my permission to be jealous.

I would love to hear your 2011 obsessions and any recommendations for artists you feel it is your duty to introduce me to. I embrace the expanded musical knowledge and my iPod thanks you. Let me hear from you in the comments section and I’ll give each one a 30 second try-out on iTunes. Thanks!

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