© Tard The Grumpy Cat

I set out this week…

…to review a “blast from the past” holiday album from one of my favorite artists (NOT Tony Bennett despite the feature photo … just foreshadowing a bit).

I snagged the early 2000’s released holiday LP from iTunes and anxiously started listening … to make a long story short, it’s not very good; in fact it’s really pretty bad with significant deficits on the vocals, arrangements and some less than stellar production.

Though this artist is a recent find for me, he/she has been around many years and has released some great LPs; this particular album however is not one of them.

If he/she was proffering this LP this year as a new holiday release, it would be fair game; but the album in question was released ~ten years ago and I respect the artist  and their overall body of work too much to dredge up and flail this one anomalous poor recording.

It seems to be the season…

…for interviews, anecdotes, birthdays, holiday releases … I also have questions and notions frittering around in my head on the music industry, upcoming VS interviews and reviews, a Sinatra related DiningwithTheRatPack jewel … and a major new VocalStandards.com addition I’m considering, and I could use some feedback.

So … with a flaming hole in my content plan for this week, beaucoup newsworthy items in my inbox and a brain racing from too much eggnog, I thought I’d fire off a stream of consciousness piece and get all this stuff out of my head! [Read more…]


About this time last year…

Jonny Blu released a very cool single for the holidays.

JB’s 2011 single — “Holiday for Two” — is a fun and jazzy original number that I enjoy a great deal while cooking up some winter fare and watching my lovely bride pad around the house on her mission to cover every surface with  Christmas decorations.

Word on the street (OK, from his FaceBook page) is that Jonny’s baking off a 2012 edition Christmas single … very cool, I can’t wait to hear it!

Keep an eye out for Jonny’s new holiday number, and in the mean time go snag Holiday For Two for your holiday playlist!

[12/1 UPDATE – DivShare is back up! Sorry again for the delay.]

“Holiday for Two” – Jonny Blu*

[* Please remember that all songs streamed here are for REVIEW PURPOSES ONLY and are NOT intended as a substitute for properly purchased original record company product. Give a listen and then please support the artists via iTunes, Amazon or your favorite music store. Artists/Record Labels — NO DOWNLOADS ARE SUPPORTED on this site; please contact me directly regarding the removal of any potentially infringing material.] 



Like Moses …

…Robert Davi is leaving the desert!

I’m not sure LA qualifies as the promised land, but after four sell-out shows out in the dunes — three at the Venetian Showroom in Vegas and one at Soboba Casino out Palm Springs way — Mr. Davi and his fabulous six piece stage band are headed to Vibrato Grill for a single show on December 12.

I caught Robert both with his full stage band at the Venetian (review here), and with his sextet touring band at Soboba (here).

Not only is there no drop off on the music side of the equation with the six piece combo, but RD’s performance seems to arrive on a more intimate level with the smaller stage band … I think I like it even more so than the big studio crew — at least for a live gig setup like Vibrato.

Do NOT miss this show if you’re in or around LA the second week of December!

Damn … between this gig and Luca Ellis’ Christmas My Way show at the El Portal, I gotta find my way to LA in December!


Hard to believe it’s already been a year…

…but indeed it was exactly a year ago today that I launched VocalStandards.com with a “Let’s Get This Party Started” post.

Re-reading that post is tough … it reminds me how difficult it was to launch this place; to get VS into motion with no wind in the sails.

Seems quite a bit different today after pushing out 123 articles and news/update posts (somewhere north of 100,000 words) over the last year.

More important than the stats…

I’ve learned a ton about the artists and music, met some great people — both in the music business and fans thereof — and seen a slew of great acts … far too much to recount here, but if you’ve been with me for awhile you know what I mean and if you’re somewhat new to VocalStandards, wander around a bit, take in some of the sights and let me know what you think.

Too much to do…

With all those words and stories in the archive, I look at my content plan and am dumbfounded to see literally 100s of story ideas — many/most of which have been in the hopper from day one! With the gush of emerging talent and the massively deep history associated with the Great American Songbook, there is literally too much to do.

Most days, I feel like a dog waking up from a nap to find 1,000 squirrels all running in different directions — my biggest problem is, which one do I chase first!

To celebrate VS’s anniversary…

Well, the next squirrel I’m chasing is a trip west this week to see Luca Ellis at his regular Beverley Hills Hotel gig in LA, and then take a short road trip into the desert to catch Robert Davi at the Soboba Casino Saturday night.

These guys represent all that’s good and right about this music genre … I knew neither of them as singer/performers when I started VS a year ago (certainly was familiar with RD as an actor) they are emerging stars — both of which have a respectful fascination with Frank Sinatra, the music he brought us and the way he lived his life.

Davi and Ellis display their respect and affection for Mr. S with the talent and dedication they bring when they perform Frank’s classic material. Seeing both of these guys this weekend is going to be a treat … What a great way to put the wraps on the first of hopefully many years of VocalStandards!

Take care all … come back soon.


You may have noticed…

…the content flow has been a bit slower of late.

Well, I’ve actually been wicked busy behind the scenes laying the groundwork for an exciting summer of VocalStandards action.

First up is a complete website makeover — that I plan to launch by month’s end.

The new site is designed more as a media destination that will look great and allow me more flexibility to post News/Updates and quick hitter “shorts”.

It’s always bugged me that I can’t post a quick update or news short without displacing the current feature article … problem solved very soon, plus more goodness! [Read more…]


Dean Martin was born…

…95 years ago today, and the world’s been a cooler place ever since!

As I’ve mentioned previously, Dean was my mom’s favorite — quite literally — until her dying day. Mom’s fascination with Dino meant my brother and I grew up on a steady diet of Dean Martin TV, movies and records.

I realized the full effect of this childhood Dino immersion while I was working on the Johnny Mercer DVD review earlier this week.

“Dream” was one of the Mercer numbers that was featured … They played snippets from Nat King Cole’s wonderful version — which I love —  but all I could think about was how Dean really sang the definitive version of the song!

It’s nearly impossible for me to name my favorite DM tunes … like my mom, whatever “Dean song” is playing is my favorite.

But my dad had a favorite Dean Martin number … [Read more…]


What a Year…

With the ball drop in Times Square about to usher in the new year, I took a look back at 2011.

Even though Vocalstandards.com went live in August of this year, it began in earnest several months earlier with a lot of soul searching, website design and research … and fifty-two posts later, what a blast!

 Whole ‘lot of music…

Between album reviews, radio station reviews and live performance recaps, we covered a lot of ground in 2011.

Catching great performances like Nikki Yanofsky, Steve Tyrell, John Pizzarelli, Michael Feinstein, Steve Tyrell again(!) and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy were major highlights for the year to be sure.

But if I had to pick one…

I love the pressure of the “if I had to pick one” question. It forces you through such strenuous and impossible decision contortions … excruciating fun! That said, I can’t do it when it comes to the Rat Pack … I simply can’t force myself to distill  “the one best” from Sam, Dean and Frank. Thank goodness the decision for “best of 2011” wasn’t that arduous. [Read more…]


SDjr didn’t shovel the holiday hits like Dean and Frank…

© Vladimir Gorsky

…but the few songs he did bring us were very cool, very Sammy.

It doesn’t necessarily surprise that Sammy Davis wasn’t as prolific with Christmas numbers as the other guys in the Rat Pack … he was Jewish for God’s sake (literally).

That said, I was still a bit surprised that only three SDjr songs appear on the hugely popular 2002 compilation album — Christmas With the Rat Pack.

It’s funny though… even with Sammy’s scant offering of holiday fare, the few songs he did bring are “best in class” hits for the season and worth highlighting on this first day of Chanukah 2011. [Read more…]