MUSIC VIDEO: Katie Ferrara, “Weightless”

By Lee Anderson

Traveling is one of the best things you can do for your soul. To go somewhere in which the locals dress differently, speak differently, sometimes act differently. The buildings are different and, hell, even the sidewalks are different. It opens the mind to visit other cultures. Other people.

Ferrara attempts to capture this feeling in the music video for her song, “Weightless,” shot in both Chur, Switzerland and Braunschweig, Germany. The video shows her "busking," which is basically finding a public place, plugging into an amp, then playing the guitar and singing like you belong there. See if you can get a crowd. 

To me and most, this sounds terrifying, throwing yourself out there so brazenly. Ferrara does it with a huge grin on her face, like there’s nothing that makes her happier. It’s even written in the video’s YouTube description that this is how she started. Busking is how she got better.  It says she “wanted this video to capture the magic of random encounters with people, the beauty of taking risks and traveling.” She wants to be weightless.

The song is a pleasant acoustic number, a good vehicle for showing that Ferrara’s got good pipes, no doubt strengthened by so much public singing. She can strum, sway, and belt it with the best of them. “Weightless” is itself a perfect song for sitting outside at a European cafĂ©, having a beer, feeling extra cool from the fact you don’t have to go to work tomorrow, and you don’t know necessarily know where the hell you are right now.

“My heart open,” she sings, “I roam the world...”

It’s a brave life.

“I have faith in people / Chance encounters and wonder / I’m not afraid of people / I’m not afraid to wonder…”

We should all be so lucky really. People would be so much happier if they left their bubble and went somewhere…But, I guess, deep down, everyone knows this already.

In the video, Ferrara has definitely managed to make the most of her surroundings. Shots include her strumming the guitar while sitting/standing before a yawning landscape of massive green hills. This gets interspersed with scenes of her busking on different streets and stages. Getting crowds is never a problem. (To avoid that toxic masculinity stuff, I won’t mention how physically attractive Ferrara is. At all.)

Katie Ferrara is a regular at Universal City Walk in Hollywood as well the Hotel Cafe. She’s now recording “Break Free,” her first full-length album with singer/songwriter and producer Patrick Joseph. She expects to release the album this year. 

INDEPENDENT ALBUM RELEASE: Rich Lerner and The Groove, "Jammin' with Juma"

By Lee Anderson

Richard Lerner and The Grooves are as simple and straightforward as their name. They’re a traditional jam band from Greensboro, South Carolina and make no apologies for it. Their website lists “some of the songs we’ve performed over the years,” which includes everyone from Hot Tuna to Eric Clapton to Bob Dylan to James Brown. They’ll even throw in The Stones and… Prince? 

It’s quite the repertoire. However, hidden within the impressively long list of diverse musical artists is Richard Lerner himself, a veteran of the southern music circuit. His new release is called “Jammin with Juma,” which refers to Juma Sultan, also a veteran musician, known mostly for playing Woodstock with Jimi Hendrix. 

Appropriately, the album’s first track, “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun),” is a Hendrix cover. It starts off with the familiar bluesy guitar solo followed by Lerner singing in his best stoned Hendrix drawl: “Girl, I wanna come along,” he sings. “Can I come along?” The guitar playing echoes Hendrix’s own via fuzz pedal. Like all of his music, the song is groovy and jammy and enjoyably hypnotic. “Hey baby,” Lerner continues, “Can I step into your world for a little while?” So Hendrix.

We go from Sixties era electric jam into an original reggae number called “Seven Sunsets.” Maintaining the same friendly spirit, the genre shift manages to not be jarring. The next song, the upbeat, pop-ish “Be Here Now,” is, to my knowledge, also an original, and like the other originals, sounds right in place next the cover songs which bracket them. 

The Groove’s version of War’s “Spill the Wine” is twangier and more raw, the singing more conversational and personal. Hendrix’s ghost returns with the aptly titled “Ghosts of Jimi.” The lyrics lays out its own description of Hendrix’s music: “Smokin’ guitars and rattlesnake drums / Deep dark mojo / and where it comes from / We aim for the stars / There ain’t no doubt.” The song speaks to the far-reaching influence of one of the greatest guitarists ever. During the song’s final movement, we’re treated to a last, more restrained Hendrix-tinged solo.

I first believed “Paranoia Blues” to be a Paul Simon cover until the song started, then I had to wonder why I would think such a cover would make any sense here. That is, until the album finishes with a cover of Ron Wood’s “Am I Grooving You?” (How’s that for random?) A 90-second “Be Here Now (Reprise)” arrives next until the release is ended by “Sunset Dub (Head Mix),” a trippy-drowsy re-imagining of “Seven Sunsets,” managing to somehow sound like a culmination of every song style we’ve heard to this point. 

“Jammin’ with Juma” is a new release which succeeds at being exactly what it hopes to be—a fun, nostalgic jam. Jimi would approve.   

In 2012, Richard Lerner and The Grooves started the Groove Jam Music Festival to benefit the homeless. For more info, click on the logo for the band’s label below:    

RANDOM, COOL, CRAZY MUSIC VIDEO: Crispin Glover, "Clownly Clown Clown" ‌‌

INDEPENDENT EP RELEASE: John Camacho, “A Suite for Xela Zaid”

By Lee Anderson

I’ve been a dear friend of John’s for a few decades, so he could release a double album of armpit noises and I would defend it ferociously--but this collection of songs is truly one of the best things I’ve ever heard from John. He’s a PHD piano player and poetic songwriter. This is highlighted in this release from having the songs mostly stripped-down piano numbers. My favorite is the jaunty “4th of July,” which uses rapid piano notes over quick breakbeats. 

“Middle 8: Down-bound baby, won’t you 
Kick it around for a while 
Found wound, you’ve been holding 
Everything so close inside 
Set to pop like a firework on the 4th of July 
This could be your Independence Day…”

The EP ends with the appropriately titled “Friends,” another great track, which seems to speak to shared times with close friends, inside and outside the South Florida music scene. A place where there were more musicians supporting each other than competing.

“Don’t worry about the local scene 
My friends are from Anywhere 
Through my ups and downs and in-betweens 
My friends always will be there…”
Speaking of friends, “Suite for Xela Said” has an extra purpose, which is to raise money for the South Florida musician, songwriter Alex Diaz, better known as “Xela Zaid.” He suffered a massive stroke in 2016, which has restricted his speaking. John wrote these songs over two days while visiting his native-Miami from North Carolina. John then performed the songs as a suite for a benefit at Churchill's Hideaway in Little Haiti. He pulled a tight band together and recorded these songs a week later.

Please, click on the photo below for the Bandcamp page, where you can listen to and download the entire EP. All monies will go directly to Alex to help pay for ongoing medical costs not covered by Medicaid:  

To help Alex, please share!

INDEPENDENT SONG RELEASE: Godking Lotto, “Extra Fly”

By Lee Anderson

Apart from owning the most grandiose rap moniker ever (and therefore, obviously, the best), Godking Lotto is a master at rapping. He’s most everything that’s good about hip-hop, as far as what this writer has always enjoyed it for: A form of spoken word, couplet poetry delivered in a minor-key staccato rhythm with deep beats, either slow or fast. 

The beats on “Extra Fly” are the slow variety, providing a counter tempo to Lotto’s lightning-quick cadence. The main subject matter seems to be his mastery of being awesome. Other people are not as awesome and he calls them out for it.  It’s familiar territory for any rap number, but this is a delicious song anyway. And, yes, that’s a taste adjective being used to describe music. 

It’s needed here since these are some of the most clever yet stream-of-conscious lyrics in a rap song since Kool Keith. I would write down lines here, but Lotto raps too fast to even attempt typing them. Also, there’s the N-word and other vulgarities too harsh to repeat in an article without giving the wrong idea about the song. (Or maybe it’s the right idea and this simply isn’t the platform.)  

The song features Jefe Rey, rhyming in a somewhat different tempo from Lotto. The toggling of the two rappers makes not bobbing your head impossible. It’s wild to hear, enough so that I listened to the track three times in a row.

I can write down this much of the lyrics, I think. This part is great:

“Ya’ll know I never squeal, down on the battlefield. I am an animal. Animal cannibal! So cerebral, Evel Dick Knieval. I don’t start it, but I finish with a sequel. Audi not the Regal. You are not my equal. Feeling like a slave, trying to free my people…”      

The song ends with Lotto repeating the chorus before asking, “The fuck? Little bitch!” It’s a harsh exclamation point to such a smooth song, but the point is certainly taken. Our narrators are skilled at rhyming but doesn’t mean they’re here to make friends. The purpose is to groove and show confidence. 

Little bitch.   

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