Twenty-third music presentation session for the blind and visually handicapped took place on 3rd of March 2020 in the presentation room of Czech agency SONS (Czech Blind United) in Prague. I was really honored for very positive feedback from the previous sessions, therefore I prepared a playlist based on visitors’ preferences and also added some pieces to expand their musical horizons. You can find the background of this story in an article about the first session here.
List of songs and their final scores:
Congratulations to Dhafer Youssef, Lenny Kravitz and Samantha Fish.
|01 – Lenny Kravitz – New York City
|02 – Margo – And Then One Day the Love of Bobby’s Life Left for Good
|03 – Chelsea Wolfe – Be All Things
|04 – Russian Circles – Geneva (Live)
|05 – Rivers Of Nihil – Wither (Live)
|06 – Audience vote #1 – Noixes – Vision (Wandup Trap)
|07 – Lukáš Vondráček – Rachmaninov – 3rd Piano Concerto, Finale (Live)
|08 – Harry Styles – Falling
|09 – Samantha Fish – Bitch On The Run (Live)
|10 – Audience vote #2 – Eagles – Hotel California (Live)
|11 – Bonus – Dhafer Youssef – Soupir Eternel (Live)
During the previous sessions I have used number of songs which I truly love, therefore it is getting more challenging to come up with more and more songs. Luckily there are many that I come up based on listeners’ feedback or from my current journalism or personal experiences, which I share in between songs. My guests surprise me each time with their preferences, which pushes me to experiment within genres. I usually concentrate on prog rock or ambient jazz, but I am more than open to add everything from experimental metal through avant-garde electronics or lounge jazzy pop.
It’s a tradition we start with something heavy and energetic. During upcoming months, especially in June there is insane number of great names coming to Czech Republic. One of them is Lenny Kravitz for whom I keep big respect since my childhood. I would really love to finally see him live and bring my younger sister along. I remember one great quote of hers: “Hey bro, could you please arrange two tickets for me on Lenny Kravitz in Ljubljana?” “Haha, it doesn’t work like that abroad. I may some good connections, but not abroad for such big names.” But I hope I will manage in Prague. Not only, because mighty Lenny is having Cory Henry as a support band. You can check our video interview with Cory at the end of the video from Colours of Ostrava festival.
Next to big names, I also love to support young talents. Plus, it’s a massive pleasure, if those artists are Czech. I can be very picky and extremely critical. Therefore it was a nice surprise when I checked the winners of Czech awards called Vinyla and Aneta Martínková and her project Margo stood out from others. I fully agree with the comment from one of the judges: “Czech scene finally has independent pop album. True newcomer of the year.” Plus in the video for loooong track called And Then One Day the Love of Bobby’s Life Left for Good they invited very talented young Czech actor Oskar Hes. Great haunting atmosphere with very mature taste for building up emotions.
At this point it was a great chance to keep building up the atmosphere in melancholic mood, which will get heavier step by step. Before all corona virus limitations and show cancelations, I wanted to include artists which belong into my absolute favorites and at the time of our session, they were supposed to come for their Prague shows. I follow Chelsea Wolfe for years and I absolutely adore her taste for heavy melancholy combined with a unique voice. You can get a taste of her live performances from her previous album Hiss Spun here. Compared to these tracks, her latest album Birth of Violence is very atmospheric and mostly acoustic album, where she shares her country/blues music roots. To be honest, it took me two weeks to pick a track to play between Deranged for Rock & Roll and Be All The Things, and I am still not purely sure with my choice, as both tracks are awesome.
Well, if I had a trouble choosing a track with Chelsea Wolfe, it was even tougher with Russian Circles. I follow this post metal trio for a decade and I remember one of my first magazine reviews was for their album Geneva. My writing was much simpler, but I still somehow managed to express the fascination of telepathy and chemistry between the three instruments. It would be natural to play a track from their latest album Black Year, but I simply wanted to express my long term fascination with their live shows and live version of the track Geneva from Dunk Festival in 2016 does the work. Fun fact: Both Russian Circles and Chelsea Wolfe cooperate with Czech agency Nomads of Prague, which provides them gear support. They usually start their EU tours in Prague, get a gear they need and spend couple of days in Prague. Sorry to hear about the cancelations. Looking forward for new dates.
In order to push the atmosphere even more in the heavy melancholy, I picked a track from American band Rivers Of Nihil. I have discovered them quite recently, as their latest album Where Owls Know My Name was voted The Best Extreme Progressive Metal Album Of 2018 at Metal Storm website I follow for ages. For our recent family trip to Italy I collected number of albums, which won their categories at Metal Storm awards and I was listening to them on one ear, while I was snowboarding. When it came to Terrestria III: Wither, I was just standing at the top of the area and enjoying spectacular view of the whole area and especially massive mountains. Heavy atmospheric mood of the track built by sensitive guitar, tasteful drums and impressive saxophone made the view even more massive.
Naturally, as for each session, I like to give space to audience, but this time it was special. I was really honored that students from “Jaroslav Ježek School” for visually handicapped kids arrived again after introduction Christmas session with their teachers. At first these guys seemed a little bit bored or distant, but as soon they heard bands like Brutus, Cult Of Luna or Anna Von Hausswolff, they were really excited. Plus I was really proud that kids with more disabilities suddenly changed from stressed into very calm and deeply into music. Therefore I wanted to give space to one of the students and one of the teachers to pick a track. David Vařeka aka Wandup Trup is very much involved in the trap music and does various forms of covers or additional mixes. This track did not maybe score, as much as it should, but he is a great talent and I very much enjoyed massive sound and oriental feel of the track.
After the break
I am extremely happy that SONS organization recently received an approval for a grant supporting their future activities. One of the aspects will be even better sound gear for our sessions, as well as an option to organize even more listening sessions. Possibly aiming on classical music or folk. I am more than ok with that, as I simply do not specialize at these genres. But to start this mood going, I have chosen a track for massive Czech talent Lukáš Vondráček playing Rachmaninov. To be honest, I heard about my fellow countryman for the first time only few months ago, during a unique incident. After reading a review of his show in Prague, in December 2019 he called Czech music environment “disrespectful” and decided not to perform his planned his January shows in Prague. I believe it was not the right move, as it hurts his fan base and general audience skips his talent and rather remembers his behavior from this incident. On the other hand, I would not have discovered him, if it wasn’t for this. I checked couple of his live albums, but this performance in Belgium was insane.
To add another piece of puzzle of the genre mix in the second half, I went for some intelligent pop. It would be really hard to find somebody, who never heard about a boy band called One Direction. But not so many heard – luckily it’s changing – about a solo career of one of their crucial members, Harry Styles. I first heard about his activities couple of years ago at Colours of Ostrava festival during an interview with Polish post rockers Tides From Nebula. Our talk started at Deftones, Behemoth and post rock scene, but slowly turned into honest discussion of quality pop and you wouldn’t believe it, but three rockers were discussing names as Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and Harry Styles. “You mean the guy from One Direction,” was my reaction. I was shocked as I will never forget being in one total sale store in Prague, where they had hundreds of lunch boxes, napkins cases with One Direction getting sold for one Euro and even crazier was, there were action figure of One Direction members getting sold for half Euro for TWO pieces! I can imagine they were sold just years ago for crazy prices and now they are almost for free. Therefore I am extremely impressed Harry managed to move on and even though I am not a typical pop fan, there are tracks from his work, that I really like. It was actually pretty hard to choose a track as I was picking between She and Falling. Luckily video for Falling was released three days before our session. Great job Harry and wish you all the best.
Talking about young talents worth more attention, here is American blues guitarist and a singer Samantha Fish. I was just in Italy with my family when editor-in-chief of gear oriented magazine Muzikus called me and said: “Dan, I need your help. Editor, who was supposed to do one interview got sick. It’s a great female guitarist and a singer Samantha Fish.” That’s all I needed to hear, as he has a thing for beautiful women in music world. Luckily Samantha has to offer more than just beauty. As soon as I heard her stuff, I was really impressed. It feels as if you combine Beth Hart, Sheryl Crow and Amanda Marshall. Interview was very nice and she proved to be smart & funny. But, there was a usual dilemma of which track to choose. I was really impressed by her Christmas cover of Run Run Rudolph, but I also wanted to play a live video to show her great energy. Plus after a pop song, I wanted to play sth for our “men’s club”. The score proves live version of Bitch on the Run did a great job!
Now it was time for a second pick from the audience. I am extremely grateful teachers of Jaroslav Ježek School invested their time after work and came with the kids. Therefore the second audience vote was for a teacher. Mrs. Policarová picked a live version of legendary The Eagles track Hotel California and she was complimenting mainly the atmosphere built by great vocals and especially amazing guitarists. It was actually a great time to share some Satanist urban stories, as well credit given to colitas aka marihuana and real band’s comments: “It was also about the uneasy balance between art and commerce.” & “It’s a song about a journey from innocence to experience.” or “Some of the wilder interpretations of that song have been amazing. It was really about the excesses of American culture and certain girls we knew.”
For a bonus I have chosen a track, recommended to me from my good friend in Ostrava. He is mainly great singer and amazing melodic metal guitarist. But next to it, he is my partner in crime within admiration of Balkan music and amazing music from Middle East. Thanks to him , I recently discovered Tunisian artists Dhafer Youssef. I needed to hear only few moments, to be totally blown away Dhafer’s vocal perfection and incredible music feeling. No wonder, Dhafer won a first place. For the end, here are few comments from Tomáš: „His music seems to some sort of connection between this world and something in space. It really doesn’t matter, if if I hearing this for a first or tenth time. I still keep discovering parts, which blow my mind. It is an ideal music to listen, if you want to disconnect and think only about the melodies coming to your ears.
The date of the next session is not specified due to corona virus pandemic, but I believe the situation will calm down very fast.