Monday, December 24, 2012

Michaelsilverstone.net asks: "What are you going to do with being alive in the world now that we're all here past 12-21-12?"

One thing we decided to do was put out an album on bandcamp.com.
It is a virtual record that you can download but you can also listen for free on line at your computer.

It's called Meet Michael Silverstone and the SilverTone5

and it features 11 tracks by the band, including Rob Douglas and David Waldfogel, as well as new solo tracks.


You'll hear classics like:

Leaving Tomorrow    
Flying Blind
If It Were To Be
Meet Me in the Field

and many many more! (Well, we said there were 11.)

You're sure to want to download your own copy today, and you'll soon be encouraging every person you know do the same.

Every single person, really?

Yes, really. Believe it. Once you take a listen to this smash new virtual album you'll be calling up people you don't know at random just in case they haven't gotten word yet. But don't just take our word for it. Click on the link below, and take a listen through your own earbones.

Where do I find this album, is it in stores? 

It's only available here, on this screen by brining your mouse to the line below and clicking like so.
Down below this line, that blue one that's underlined. Voila!:

http://michaelsilverstone.bandcamp.com/album/michael-silverstone-and-the-silvertone5

And if you act now, you'll get a special live bonus track of the SilverTone5 live at the Thirsty Mind, sure to be a collector's item. (Full legal disclosure for our friends in Delaware and Alaska: the epic bonus song  many many more!  is not yet available.)


In the meantime we'll leave you with this recent live performance by the SilverTone2, a spin-off project of Michael Silverstone and the SilverTone5, featuring the legendary session sideman Robbie Lloyd Henderson on guitar.










Saturday, November 17, 2012

"Extended Play" Benefit November 16th



It was a great night of music at the Thirsty Mind Friday Nov, 16th. The occasion was a benefit concert for Jen Henderson, the mom of the Yellow Sofa's very favorite Kindergarten Teacher/Singer Songwriter,  angel-voiced Christa Joy Henderson.



Christa Joy and Jeremy Kent Headlined a special benefit concert at the Yellow Sofa Extended Play on November 16th at the Thirsty Mind Cafe and Wine Bar.

The concert was also dedicated to celebrating the culmination of a fundraising campaign that Christa and her partner Jeremy Kent initiated on Jen's behalf. More information is available here.  Also contributing to the program were the SilverTone5 who are seen here in this archival footage from an early concert they did at the Star Club in Hamburg, West Germany in 1966 when they were still relative unknowns.




For links to just discovered video, see:

Early SilverTone5 Live in Hamburg

and for a longer sample see this clip:

Longer Sample from the SilverTone5's 56th Anniversary North American Tour



The band notes: "With thanks to Dr. Abraham L. Kirchenbaum for use of his prototype experimental time travel machine. And in fond memory of our drummer Scotty Edwards who accidently became his own Grandfather and is stuck in a temporal Escher loop after we became famous on Earth B sub prime."




Sunday, November 11, 2012

Yellow Sofa "Extended Play" @ The Thirsty Mind

Like a very model of the Buddhist framework of bardo states, the Yellow Sofa Open Mic underwent experiences with striking parallels to the near-death experiences of those who physically died and then experienced themselves floating out of their bodies.

                                               Photo by Ruth Hutton


Throughout the Summer of 2012, the eponymous Yellow Sofa was physically lifted and carried to various locations, including the crosswalk of Main Street, Northampton, 60 Masonic Street, and eventually to the Village Commons in South Hadley, where the legendary Yellow Sofa Open Mic was  reincarnated at the Thirsty Mind Coffee and Wine Bar in South Hadley, MA.

The purpose behind the Buddhist Bardo states after death is to provide the dying an opportunity to become enlightened and attain Buddah-hoood, or if enlightenment is not attained, to secure a favorable rebirth. The first goal will probably take a lot more work than any of us has done yet, but the second was brilliantly realized, as the new open mic has met and even surpassed the original in terms of enthusiasm, energy and quality of performance.

Due to its large and growing popularity,  the gracious Hungry Ghosts at the Thirsty Mind have decided to add an additional night (Friday) which is called "Extended Play," during which performers who participated in the Thursday night Open Mic, can return for a longer and more concert-like set.

While the Yellow Sofa Open Mic is defined by its attentive audience, the Friday night sets provide less- sheltered conditions, as you can see in this video, as attendees from a Mt. Holyoke College lecture about empowering women to go into journalism, crowded into the coffee shop to debrief and laugh about their experiences, quite indifferent to the fact that live music was what brought people into the shop prior to their arrival.

The good news about the bad news, is that performers occasionally get opportunites to practice functioning on stage beyond from the limitations of singer-songwriter vulnerability in the rough and tumble of the unprotected marketplace. Hey, it's good for ya.


"In developing your ability to perform live, whatever you learn to deal with that doesn't stop you completely make you mo' better, probably," says Michael Silverstone of the SilverTone5.



Gimme One Reason (T. Chapman)
Re-writing my set list on the spot, I employed some degree of calclulation and decided to opened with the one song in my repetoir written by someone widely looked up to by undergraduates at an all-women's college--Tracy Chapman. I drew on method acting stills to convey the lyrics, trying to get the people who weren’t listening to get me to show up to play for them.

Satelite of Love (L. Reed)
“Things like that drive me out of my mind!” Did an experiment where I got real quiet, and raised the piano to a higher octive, and the room got way quieter. Was so happy with it I rocked out at the end like I had a band behind me.

Watching the River Flow (B. Dylan)
A perfect, “Yeah, whatever, song,” for the occasion.

Anthem  (L. Cohen)
A really mysterious and powerful piece of music, and I was thinking about it in terms of this moment in history, not just the moment of me playing music in a coffee shop.

For more about the Yellow Sofa Open Mic including how you can take part, see:
http://yellowsofaopenmic.blogspot.com







Sunday, August 12, 2012

Frets and Refrains


     Last month I took part in Frets and Refrains, a gathering of guitar players and songwriters for a week at the Full Moon Resort in Oliveria, NY near Woodstock. There were classes taught by Richard Thompson (I guess Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney were unavailable), Teddy Thompson, Happy Traum, Sloan Wainwright and Martin Simpson. There's a long list of things (guitar playing and songwriting being two) that Richard Thompson does stunningly well, so well as to redefine at a higher level what is imaginable. His teaching is pretty stunning too--in guitar barn lecture hall format with conference time afterwards.


                                If you had five minutes to ask Richard Thompson something, 
                                          what would you ask? I asked about the the derivation and 
                                          inspiration of one of my favorite Thompson songs, and about how
                                          he maintains habits of creativity for the long haul. 
                                           © 2012 Photo by Anneliese Moyer, Stage Right Photos


     Teddy Thompson, who is an outstanding songwriter and supernatural vocalist (taking brilliant and thorough advantage of his linage as son of Richard and Linda) led a songwriting workshop in which he challenged us to write a song under severe limitations. Use only 3 chords, and finish it in 60 minutes or less. Since he seemed so sure it was possible, and I couldn't imagine letting him or myself or classmates down, I managed to do this--in a Dropped-D open tuning that Richard had taught us that morning, using a creative confidence I had gotten from Sloan Wainright's singing class that afternoon, and with Richard's son Jack playing bass and his legendary sound man Simon Tassano working the board at an open mic about three hours after I wrote it.

Playing "Flying Blind" a song about trusting when 
you're in over your head, a theme I got by being trusting
    when I was in over my head. My trust was rewarded.
                                                       © 2012 Photo by Anneliese Moyer Stage Right Photos                                       
Here's a video fragment of this same performance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FurPPL_L7jE&list=UUjHSg_f1mSj0EeDNcuoWDSw&index=2&feature=plcp

     I wrote three songs during the camp, and recorded them when I got home, and put guitar solos on some of them. Richard had actually done a session on soloing, and you might wonder, since the guy's acknowledged by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the 20 greatest guitarists in the history of R-r-r-ock, and, I'm not making this up, just recently designated on merit as Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.)  by Queen Elizabeth II for his invaluable contributions to English culture--how could he show you a kazillionth of what he knows that we could walk away with in 90 minutes?

     Somehow he managed to do more than this: He offered three observations that will forever change my approach to the guitar. First of all he noted that there are different purposes for guitar solos: ones where you are reflecting the melody with thoughtful intelligence, ones where you are being a bit more introspective and setting a meditative tone, and ones where you just play with passion and fire. (And of course, he said, and then demonstrated, at all times, you want to just shred like this!--not.)

     He also said that the idea was to use different kinds of scales in the key you're in, and play something off, or unexpected, but then know where to go to resolve it in the home key. I think I said that right. I sort of know what I'm talking about but don't quote me.

     But most valuable of all, he said that a guitar soloist should be able to sing the solo, and translate it into the guitar playing it. Say you're camping with friends, and you start singing a Beatles song, and the solo comes up, but there isn't a guitar for miles around. What do you do? Air guitar. How do you play the solo? You sing it: "You know I believe and how"-- "Ba ba-da, dow, dow, dowwww," (maybe not the coolest example, but the most instantly recognizable).  So imagine you've playing a solo in the studio. You don't know what to play. You can rattle around the box of the pattern you learned from the blues scale book--it will be in key at least--but better yet is to sing the solo, then play what you sung (simultaneously, once you get fluent enough).  It will come out far more naturally and expressively than finger habits will allow. Here's what that approach sounds like on my home studio version of Flying Blind, of which my son, who normally holds standards of cool that I have no hope to aspire to said, "All right, I have to admit that's awesome."

http://michaelsilverstone.bandcamp.com/track/flying-blind-guitar-solo-version

     I just couldn't let Richard down. I liked being in his company, too much to fall back to my usual place on my home planet, which is Earth. But I cheated a little on the recording to make up for the fact that I don't actually know how to play like that. I took about 25 tries to do the solo, and inched forward a phrase at a time, then double tracked a harmony that one day it would be nice to play at the same time as the lead line using the Hybrid pick and finger plucking style that Richard was introducing us to. He explained that teaching it in one session was "vaugely impossible" but that he respected us for the effort and added that he would feel badly if we actually succeeded in learning the style instantly, I suppose since it had taken him his whole life to develop it. Richard only uses words for about half of what he says, by the way, the rest is conveyed through inference and demonstration, passionate commitment and frequent humor, which is the same thing he does in his songwriting and guitar playing.

      Oh how I wish. . .

     Another song I wrote was a complete surprise. I woke up in camping tent city, the pastoral half-price economy ghetto of the camp (a field with propane heated well water shower hose tents), opened my eyes to a nylon ceiling and had two thoughts: "Huh? Oh, yeah, this camp thing" and "Doon, da, doon, da, doon, da, doon, da". I heard some song in my head and needed to get to a piano or more likely a guitar, but where? The privacy of my 20th Century Ford station wagon with the doors and windows closed turned out to be ideal. With my guitar and portable recorder at my side, I managed to put down the back seat and fashion a provisional field recording studio to observe and capture the wild dream song idea in its natural habitat. The result was this:

http://michaelsilverstone.bandcamp.com/track/horses

It's a very different kind of song than any other I have written. I don't completely understand it, and I like it. Sloan Wainwright called it a "true-blue" song. I sang it in singing class, and couldn't get the phrasing right because it was so new to me, but I sang, "Blah, blah, blah," in place of the words in the final verse, which is one of the techniques she recommends to free your voice. Doing that made the song presentation worse, but the learning in singing class way better.

     On the Friday morning of a week I really could not bear ending, the sunshine literally disappeared overnight and it was raining. I began to roll my soggy tent in plastic and decamp, obliterating all traces of where I had been. I'm not proud, but I have to tell you what happened, a sob rose in my throat. I felt like I had finally arrived where I wanted to be--a beautiful community of music and friendship and exemplary teachers that I was inhabiting heart and soul in sandals and short sleeves in sunlight with good food and a creek and swimming pool right there. But I also felt like I was a young child and I had glimpsed and was losing paradise forever, and cruelly, just like destiny demands, I would have to return to the nowhere near paradise world of not-here. (Don't misunderstand, this is no comment on my customary circumstances, but one on the extent of how temporarily and completely happy I was.)  I saw a classmate, he had come from thousands of miles from Hungary to take part. I said, "They shouldn't have made it rain this morning. I feel like in 30 minutes, music is going to end forever." He smiled and offered a kindly reminder, "Dude, music will go on."

That's how I got my third song, as if to prove that true:

                                           View from the field where campers woke up in the morning.

   Link to this song:

http://michaelsilverstone.bandcamp.com/track/the-music-will-go-on

Link to the album I since decided to release: (my first)

http://www.michaelsilverstone.net/p/music.html



 



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Live at the Opening Night of the Travelling Yellow Sofa





The opening night of the Travelling Yellow Sofa in Northampton was a memorable one, featuring 15 performances by a stellar lineup of musicians, singer/songwriters, spoken word artists, and poets.
Beginning, ending and interspersed throughout the evening were a series of musical jams with lyrics and chords provided to all, as well as a video tribute Levon Helm, to whom the night was dedicated.

On 4-27-12 a local NPR affiliate, WFCR, aired a feature on the Travelling Yellow Sofa including recordings from opening night:

http://nepr.net/news/northampton-mass-musicians-join-together-after-losing-venue


The Yellow Sofa's permanent weekly home is at the Thirsty Mind in South Hadley (opposite Mt. Holyoke College). For more information, see the Yellow Sofa Open Mic blog at:


Below is a video of something I got to contribute to the evening, a new song called "By Now I Know" (also dedicated to Levon Helm) which does not so much draw on his inimitable style as the deep feelings of affection he created in his family and fans by being the person and musical figure he was--recently eulogized by musician, songwriter and producer Joe Henry as "a deacon who spoke our gospel."


There is also a fancy-schmancy harmony and multiple instrument layered studio version of this song you can listen to by clicking on this link:


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Unofficial Pittsfield Economic Development Theme Song

In a world trying to rise from the ashes of post-industrial decline. . . a song Ripped from the headlines. . .





Pittsfield, MA, one-time home to General Electric, has been trying (and succeeding) to reinvent itself as an arts mecca.  Asked by absolutely no one, I created this theme song for the cause.

Unable to get the  headline of the local alternative arts tabloid this week out of my head ("Pity City No More") I may have made matters far worse by making it the hook of this song:

http://michaelsilverstone.bandcamp.com/track/no-more-pity-city

Special thanks to the SilverTone Horns featuring Eric Blair on trumpet, Norm Chomsky on coronet and Bernie Schwartz on Trombone.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Fool's Day Release



"Travelling Yellow Sofa Open
Mic" Tour event amuses passing
delivery person in Northampton,
MA. (Photo by Ruth Hutton)


Got a song new song on "Thesixtyone.com". If you haven't been to that site, check it out. It really is a great format for getting introduced to new music. A visual pops up, the song plays, and you can search it, or play it like a radio.

Our new song, "Something for Nothing" features an incredible band that includes a horn section, two drummers, and backup vocals from, my brother George Silverstone and cousin David Silverstone who are brilliant as always. I said it before, and I'll say it again. There's something magic that happens when you blend voices with someone in your own family. It took us nearly 2 full days in the studio, but they passed so quickly that we were surprised to discover that it was 4 a.m. when we were finally done, whereupon we listened to it three times, knowing we had a hit, and then stumbled off in glory to a Kefir and 5-Hour Energy breakfast at One Dollar Pizza on Hollywood Boulevard as the rosy fingers of dawn illuminated the Capitol Records Tower.

Well, I didn't mean to go on like that. It's way past time to provide the hyperlink and sign off. We hope you like this as much as we enjoyed making it:


Michael

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Meet Michael Silverstone & the SilverTone5

"You pulled in the crowd. It's clear you were having a blast."


"Fun Pop--but not in an annoying way."--5th Annual Happy Valley Showdown Judges

Fans react before--a number of years before--the SilverTone5 draw critical raves, Watusis, Hitchhikers and Mashed Potatoes at the recent "Happy Valley Showdown" with our four-song set. Riding the wave, we then went into the studio the very next day to record our latest hit single:


and the follow-up B-side necessitated by the insatiable demands of the recording industry:




Both will be featured on the 2/27/12 podcast of 411Underground Radio hosted by Madame Rockstress (Patty Siefert) which features her picks of New England's best indy bands.


For an inexplicable AM-style radio promo we did, for the show, click here:


http://soundcloud.com/michael-silverstone/silvertone5-radio-jingle




Hear more music at:





See them in action by clicking on:





We are:

David Waldfogel--electric guitar
Denny Wolfe--drums
Rob Douglas--bass, vocals
Michael Silverstone--guitar, keyboards, vocals

Y 5? Y not?

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