Enticed by a friend’s recommendation, I discovered the operatic group Il Divo. Wow! What powerful voices and what a full orchestral sound supports this talented quartet of male singers. If you like dramatic, deep music like Andrea Bocelli, but also enjoy pop music, try Il Divo, their first, self-titled album.
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Researchers have long acknowledged black influence and culture within popular music…but not until recently has anyone studied black presence in country music. Hidden in the Mix: The African American Presence in Country Music is an erudite, heavily footnoted essay collection that demonstrates how country music is not only “the white man’s blues.”
Amadeus centers around the genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 18th century Vienna. It won eight Academy Awards, including that of Best Picture. But you’ve seen Amadeus a thousand times and are dying for another classical music movie…so now what?
Click here for other films that feature classical composers.
No joke, John Mellencamp and Stephen King are friends. They even collaborated on a Southern gothic musical, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, about two brothers involved in a murder/suicide who haunt an isolated, Mississippi cabin. King wrote the play, Mellencamp wrote the music, and T. Bone Burnett put his haunting, roots rock stamp over the soundtrack, which features a devilish Elvis Costello, Neko Case, Rosanne Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and more. Interspersed with dialogue from the play, the soundtrack gathers you into the story of ghost brothers Jack and Andy as they feud, die, and later watch their nephews step onto the same calamitous path of tragic love and family secrets.
Both electric and acoustic strains of the country music scene are showcased in the series soundtracks The Music of Nashville, Volume 1 and Volume 2, and it’s the original songs that make an impact. The best are the sweet yet sultry duets, especially those featuring newcomer Clare Bowen, but there’s something for every mood.
You are leaning at the hotel bar, sipping a cucumber mint concoction, or maybe you are at the casino, dropping a quarter in a slot while making eyes with a certain lithe someone across the aisle. All the while, sleek, sometimes exotic, lounge music plays overhead. Or maybe you are at home and need to escape the norm…
Click here for a taste of the Library’s lounge music collection.
It’s been two years since Hugh Laurie’s first album, but finally rabid fans can get their hands on Dr. Gregory House belting the blues while on piano and guitar, backed by the Copper Bottom Band. In fact, Laurie steps side stage on more than a few of Didn’t It Rain’s thirteen tracks, allowing his band members to shine. As such, the album bends from jazz to blues to R&B, and even dips a few notes into tango. Laurie has a love of the Great American Songbook and it is well on display. The first half of Didn’t It Rain will make you boogie while the second half will calm down enough to play in the background on a September, sweet-tea-sipping stroll.
Gillian Welch is a singer-songwriter with bluegrass and Appalachian influences. Her albums The Harrow and the Harvest, Time (The Revelator), and Hell Among the Yearlings contain dark ballads, deep love, and feel both innovative and old time. If you like the Civil Wars, give Gillian Welch a listen!
Lonesome Wyatt is the Ambrose Bierce of underground country. He plays the kind of music you’d hear while walking down a dirt road headed deep into the woods weaving your way through haints and shadows. When he isn’t touring with Those Poor Bastards, Wyatt’s penning pulp novels to support their albums or working on his side project, Lonesome Wyatt and the Holy Spooks. His music is dark, atmospheric, desperate, and pained by life and the people in it. Murder ballads, ghost tales, broken hearts, bad relationships, benders, lost souls – it isn’t exactly uplifting, and yet, this isn’t a man who is weltering in misery. There’s a difference between shouting out wrongs and awfuls and wallowing in them.
Lonesome Wyatt is a mad-eyed architect of exquisitely desperate music. The Library was able to steal some of his time for a short talk about his reading habits and upcoming projects.
Mount Prospect Public Library: What was the last good book you read?
MPPL: Is there any genre or author you refuse to read? Why or why not?
LW: I don’t like to read things about teens or romance unless it’s from the 1950’s or earlier. I’m just not interested.
MPPL: How often do you read? What genres are your go-tos?
MPPL: You’ve mentioned in other interviews that Poe and Lovecraft have been inspirations to you…what other writers (or musicians…or artists) inspire you?
LW: I like the author Robert Lowry a whole bunch. His book The Big Cage really got me going. Also Nightmare Alley, They Shoot Horses Don’t They, and all those classic noir stories are very inspiring. The Silver Surfer 1968 series and the Ghost Rider 1970’s series have a lot of great stuff in them too. That’s what comes to mind right now, but the list of brain expanding and inspiring creations is almost endless.
MPPL: What book could draw you into joining a book club?
LW: I don’t know. I’m pretty sure it would have to have a monster or robot on the cover though.
MPPL: When was the last time you were in a library? Do you think libraries are still important in today’s world?
LW: I go to the library at least once a week. It’s one of my favorite places. You can get almost anything you want to read or watch without having to spend your hard earned dough on it. We always went to the library when I was growing up and I discovered some great things just browsing around. Libraries are full of an endless supply of fertilizer for the imagination. They are immeasurably important.
MPPL: Both books and music are becoming more and more a digital culture. Do you think anything is lost when the physical world gets digitized?
LW: I have absolutely no interest in digital stuff. I can’t understand the appeal. This old goat prefers paperback books and either vinyl records, cassette tapes, or CDs as a last resort.
MPPL: We heard tell that there’s a Halloween album in the works. Tell us more…and is there a novel to go with it?
LW: Some of my favorite albums are those old Halloween ones from the 60’s and 70’s. It’s a real shame that no one makes that kind of stuff anymore. Nothing beats listening to them in the gloom of the basement on a 1978 Fisher Price record player. It’s just perfect. They’re often refreshingly weird and unique.
Anyhow, those old records really moved me and I wanted to try to make something special out of that initial spark of inspiration. This record is like the musical equivalent of a homemade Halloween costume; kind of strange and clunky, but made with real heart. I’m awful fond of the thing. There’s no book with this one. It’s just a collection of stories and songs about monsters and death.
MPPL: What else is upcoming for you and Those Poor Bastards in 2013?
LW: Those Poor Bastards are playing some shows in August, then I’ll be releasing that Halloween album in October, and finally an Edgar Switchblade 7” will arrive in December. It should be a pretty frightening year.
For more information on the fantastic and foreboding art of Lonesome Wyatt, check him out on tour or at his website. Gotta have Lonesome Wyatt in your life right now? Stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen desk at the Library for Gospel Haunted by Those Poor Bastards or Lonesome Wyatt’s duet album with Rachel Brooke, Bitter Harvest.
Can’t wait for buzzed-about Broadway shows to make their way to the Midwest? Ease that longing with the best new cast recordings of the Great White Way. Kinky Boots won six 2013 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Actor in a Leading Role (the fabulous Billy Porter), and Best Original Score for composer/lyricist /pop icon Cyndi Lauper. Honors for Best Musical Revival went to Pippin, reimagined with a circus theme and featuring the spellbinding performance of Best Actress in a Leading Role Patina Miller. If jukebox hits are more your flavor, you can’t miss the energetic medleys of Motown: The Musical. Though the stage may be only in your mind, the theater experience will inspire a personal standing ovation.