Monday, October 11, 2010

Music Monday: Barry Manilow ~~ Texas Gypsies

Today's post is a two-parter, mainly about Barry Manilow and his astrology, but first a word or two about a super band we saw at our local theatre on Saturday evening: The Texas Gypsies. There's no data available for astrological mumblings about these guys, but I do want to recommend their shows to any passing reader who has an opportunity to see them. The band is wonderfully entertaining for both musical nincompoops like me, and well-informed music-heads like my husband.

Now, if y'all thought there's nothing to be found in Texas, music-wise, but twang and country music, y'all are seriously mistaken! There's a large fraternity of jazz musicians in North Texas who intermingle to form several different groups/bands. One such band is The Texas Gypsies, based in Dallas. They came to our hometown with horns and drums along with guitar and double bass. We were superbly entertained in a variety of styles: New Orleans jazz and blues, western swing and big band music, along with a Django Reihnardt-type of jazz, and a sprinkle of The Beatles. Much of their repertoire will be familiar to jazz, swing and pop fans. The group has a full repertoire of original music too, it can be sampled on their 2007 album Cafe Du Swing. What makes the show extra special is to see how much the musicians are enjoying themselves - as well as delighting the audience.

(Click on photograph to enlarge it)

The band can be made up of from 3 to 9 musicians depending on venue. Our friend and relative, Jeff (TNPOTUS with commenter hat on) who organised the show tells me that the band members "just kind of come and go, depending on the gig and their availability. It's sort of a "collective." (Yes, that's right, a SOCIALIST band!!)" Well then - how could I not become an immediate fan?

All five of the guys on Saturday were superb musical artists and craftsmen, but one immediately caught my attention: Mike Sizer, who played saxophone and clarinet. Mr. Sizer seemed to me to be something special, even among such talented company. I joked that I'd become a groupie! A little Googling when back home brought up that Mike played with the famous Dukes of Dixieland for 6 years....that alone on someone's résumé is enough to impress my husband who wandered off and came back with 4 or 5 old LPs of the Dukes from way back. Mike, of course, joined the band in later years, can be seen playing with them on several videos at YouTube. As well as playing in other well-known bands, he has been a guest soloist with the Texas Wind Symphony, has done lots of studio recording based in San Francisco, and his work has appeared in ads and industrial videos.

Other band members for Saturday's show were: Steve Curry, brilliant guitar player and vocalist; John Hewitt, double bass and great vocals; Andrew Griffith drums, and excellent on trumpet: Freddie Jones.

See their website and hear clips of their music:

Photo #1) by husband, #2) by husband's daughter Karen.) for SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

Barry Manilow is one of those artists whose songwriting and singing have been unfairly held in disdain by the brigade who think they are, or more accurately were, "hip". Neil Diamond is another such artist. I've written about Neil already, as one of my all-time favourites, and as it happens I learned the other day that Neil has at last been nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - not before time!!!

"Hip" is in the eye and ear of the beholder, and to this particular beholder those, especially music professionals and critics, who consider themselves "hip" enough to deride someone in public places and written pieces - continuously - are in no way "hip" themselves - just the opposite in fact.

I've never followed Barry's career in detail, but was always glad to hear his songs played on radio shows. I hadn't given his personality much thought, to be honest, until I saw him in the role of mentor on the also oft derided TV show American Idol. He was one of the best, most caring most constructive and helpful mentors ever, in my opinion. From then on I've had a whole lot of admiration for him.

Barry will be heading towards the big 70 in a year or two, but he's still singing well. In 2009 his regular show at the Las Vegas Hilton was well received. A review by Megan Edwards HERE is a good read.

Some lyrics from one of his best-known recordings (written in collaboration with Jack Feldman; Gerard Kenny; Drey Shepperd & Bruce Sussman) "I Made It through the Rain" seem to reflect his own experiences:

I made it through the rain
I kept my world protected
I made it through the rain
I kept my point of view
I made it through the rain
And found myself respected
By the others who
Got rained on too
And made it through
When friends are hard to find
And life seems so unkind
Sometimes you feel so afraid
Just aim beyond the clouds
And rise above the crowds
And start your own parade
'Cause when I chased my fears away
That's when I knew that I could finally say
I made it through the rain

Born on 17 June 1943 in Brooklyn, New York at 9:00 AM. (Astrodatabank)

Saturn just 8 degrees from his Gemini Sun connects to a couple of things - his longevity as a performer and work ethic; and possibly to the crtics who have dogged him throughout his career. Mercury and Uranus conjoined in the early degrees of Gemini reflect a guy who was never afraid to be apart from the crowd: different. Unlike John Lennon (last Monday's subject) who always felt "different and hip", Barry may not have seen himself as "hip", or different from anybody else, but he was able to carry the perception of him by his critics with consummate grace, something which is exceptional and unusual in itself. The four Gemini planets combined relate to his obvious ease of communication with his adoring fan-base.

Moon in warm-hearted, expansive Sagittarius opposes Saturn in Gemini, probably providing a balanced enough outlook for Barry to survive that unfairly critical background which followed him around for so long.

Venus in Leo sits right on the ascendant angle of his natal chart (if time of birth is near accurate). This translates as planet of the arts/music placed in the strongest position of all in any chart, and in Leo, sign of the showman, which Barry undoubtedly is.

Jupiter in Cancer, semi-sextile (helpful aspect) to natal Sun adds sensitivity and comapassion to his lightning-fast Geminian mental reflexes.

Weekend in New England(My favourite)
written by Randy Edelman.


Wisewebwoman said...

Oh that concert sounds right up my street, T. Himself is out and about rather rapidly? - that bodes very well indeed!
As to Barry - I can take him or leave him, a little too sweet for my taste and his new plastic face I find a little disconcerting (no pun intended, lol)

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~You were commenting here at the same time as I was commenting on yours! :-)

Himself and I were ferried to the theatre by Daughter Karen, as he's not allowed to drive for a week to 10 days (nearly up) - otherwise doing well apart from a BP problem which he has reported and received advice to up his meds until he sees the specialist again. I suppose it takes time to get the adjustment exactly right for each individual.

Barry's songs do tend to be a bit sweet, and very sentimental - yes.
Even so, I they have their place, and for sure beat some of the current electronic yammerings. They, and he, have deserved a much kinder press.