Category Archives: Music news

Flashback: Dave Grohl Plays First Gig With Nirvana in 1990


27 years ago today the seminal band made their classic formation live debut at North Shore Surf Club in Olympia, Washington

Watch Dave Grohl play his first show with Nirvana in 1990 at North Shore Surf Club in Olympia, Washington.

By the fall of 1990, the then three-year-old Nirvana had cycled through different band names and no less than five drummers before settling on their moniker and finding their groove with their final drummer Dave Grohl.

“Kurt was kind of a drummer himself. When he would play guitar or write songs, if you ever looked at his jaw, he would be moving his jaw back and forth, like he was playing the drums with his teeth. He heard in his head what he wanted from a rhythm, and that’s a hard thing to articulate,” Grohl told Rolling Stone in 2001 about the group’s difficulty in choosing a drummer and his eventually joining the band. “I think one of the reasons they wanted me was that I sang backup vocals. I don’t remember them saying, ‘You’re in the band.’ We just continued.”

Less than a month after their first session, Nirvana’s classic lineup was solidified and they played their first live show together on October 11th, 1990 at North Shore Surf Club in Olympia, Washington. In a clip filmed during that performance, the band is seen playing to a sweaty, engaged crowd and it showcases their new drummer, shirtless and hair flying as he propels the songs’ frenetic, thunderous beats. Grohl’s live Nirvana premiere included a rendition of Shocking Blue’s “Love Buzz,” which Nirvana had recorded as a single in 1988. The trio also performed Nirvana’s “Scoff” and “Sliver” as well as a cover of Devo’s “Turn Around.”

One year later, Nirvana would shape the alternative rock landscape with the release of their sophomore studio album, 1991’s Nevermind, which climbed to the top of the charts with the help of their hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Reflecting back on that “whirlwind” time, the Foo Fighters frontman called it “the greatest achievement of my life.”

“There would be times when we would really connect — smile and laugh and feel like a band. And there were times when you felt lost and questioned what you were doing there,” Grohl told Rolling Stone of the first album he recorded as part of Nirvana. “There were times when I had to back off completely and think, ‘I’m just the drummer in this band.’ And there were other times when we’d all share something really beautiful, like a show or recording or just a vocal harmony. That’s when you really felt like you were part of something great.”

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Much love and happy music making,

Roger Moisan.

Inside A Musical Mind – Part 3

By Roger Moisan

The Mysterious Case Children

The 1970s was a tough decade for everyone. Misogyny, homophobia and racism were the norm. There was no such thing as ‘Health and Safety’ or ‘Child Protection’ and bullying was the accepted form of natural selection. A nation still recovering from World War 2 (a mere 30 years earlier) was struggling to find its identity and importance on the world stage, post empire. And of course, nuclear war was imminent. Paranoia was rife albeit from the Soviet threat and the new threat of thousands upon thousands of immigrants from Asia and the Caribbean flooding the country with their weird food and funny foreign ways. Fueled by Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, the far right in the form of the National Front reared their disgusting heads creating fear and division amongst fragile new communities across the land. Not a great time for a small bespectacled brown boy to be making his way in the world!

However, September 1975 was the time for 8 year old Roger to make the transition from safe cuddly Wordsworth First School, under the protection of the feisty Jose Cavalo, to the large, unpredictable and scary world of Foundry Lane Middle. Stories of elephants as pets would no longer cut it and despite having an older sister already in situ,  the fear was palpable and I knew it would not take long for the bullies to find me. I needed something to give me an edge, to stand out for different reasons and above all, to command some respect. Many young people these days find gangs, weapons and dangerous older role models for the exact same reasons that I was struggling with but these, mercifully, were not available to me and I know had they been, this is the path I would have chosen.

Roger and Tracy Moisan, winter 1975

No, something else presented itself to me. The mysterious case children.

What were these strange wooden cases that children were carrying back and forth from school everyday that created an aura of mystique, respect and class and above all, how could I get hold of one? Not your modern trendy gig bags but old fashioned wooden coffins that occasionally gave away their secret by their shape. Is that a violin, a guitar perhaps? My parents reaction to my announcement of wanting to play an instrument was simple. “You gave up playing the recorder, what makes you think playing the trumpet would be any different?” My reasons were not musical at the time but this decision came to shape my life for ever.

Read Part 1

Read Part 2

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Much love and happy music making,

Roger Moisan.

Embarrassing Musical Moments – Up On the Roof!

By Roger Moisan

The nature of music making means that there are many opportunities for making a complete fool of yourself in front of a lot of people. One particular event that stands out in my mind is the end of year concert at Hailsham Community College, Sussex, England in July 1998.

As the visiting brass teacher and band director, I was due to conduct the College band at the opening of the concert which was a showcase of the year’s musical achievements and annual prize giving ceremony. In attendance at this year’s celebration were the usual school dignitaries, guests and the Mayor as well as many hundreds of parents and children.

As a busy peripatetic teacher, I had been rushing around all day from school to school and had hardly anytime for myself. Having arrived in Hailsham with plenty of time, checked in with the band and Director of Music, I still had fifteen spare, precious minutes for a long needed trip to the toilet! So, off I go to the staff room, on the top floor, locate the men’s room at the far end, find a clean cubicle and breathe a sigh of relief. Not one minute into my activity, I hear the terminal ‘clunk’ of a door being locked. The toilet door! After a few moments of disbelief, I begin calling out “Hello, hello, I’m in here!” To no avail. I am locked in the toilet on the top floor of a remote part of a huge Community College five minutes before curtain up.

The over zealous caretaker had decided to get a head start on his evening’s shutting down routine and I was on the inside, trapped.

A small window was my only option and route of escape, so after prizing it open, I managed to squeeze my six foot frame through the unfeasibly small orifice only to find myself on the roof of the main hall some fifty feet above ground level. A quick scout around found a skylight looking directly down and into the concert hall where my band and the audience were waiting patiently for the arrival of the conductor. Me! Over the PA, I heard the chilling words, “Please welcome our brass teacher and band director, Roger Moisan” Audience applaud and I do not walk on to the stage because I am on the roof!

Panic kicked in and I decided I had to get down some how, so after a bit of roof hopping from level to level, I managed to get low enough to be able to slide down and drop on to a dumpster, leg it around the front of the building, into the hall, pick up my baton and start the band. We played well and all seemed ok until my chat with the mayor after the show. “Roger, do you realise you have what seems to be a tyre track mark all the way up your trousers and jacket?” It was the summer and my concert attire was a beige Chino suit (it was the 90s) and those in the know are aware that schools use non-setting, thick black paint to prevent the most athletic kids from climbing onto the roof. I had performed, with my back to the crowd, looking like a victim from a Road Runner cartoon!

If this has been helpful to you, please help us by clicking on our sponsor’s ads. It won’t cost you anything but we will get a few pence per click.

Much love and happy music making,

Roger Moisan.

What’s Behind Hip Hop’s Illuminati Music Obsession?

What’s Behind Hip Hop’s Illuminati Music Obsession?

Rap has often been defined by its fixation on money, power, and influence. What’s behind hip hop’s Illuminati music obsession?

The story of how the Illuminati first ended up in a rap song is a lot like your average Illuminati conspiracy: There’s a byzantine plot and a shifting cast of somewhat famous characters with varying allegiances and interests. The genesis of the lyrics quoted above, from the 1995 remix to LL Cool J’s “I Shot Ya,” involves a beef between Tupac and that song’s featured artist, Keith Murray; Murray’s subsequent beef with Mobb Deep’s Prodigy; and a notable cameo from a 15-year-old Foxy Brown. The particulars aren’t especially important. What is important is that line, from Prodigy, that everyone remembers. It was the first time the Illuminati was mentioned prominently on wax, nestled in the middle of a needlessly complex series of beefs.“Illuminati want my mind, soul, and my body.”

It was the beginning of an entirely new school of thought in hip-hop, one as intelligent and informed as it was suspicious and paranoid. Prodigy was referring to the Illuminati conspiracy theory: the idea that there’s a network of shadowy, powerful individuals bent on controlling society by rebuilding it as a “New World Order” under a totalitarian worldwide government. Around the same time, CeeLo Green made reference to it on “Cell Therapy,” claiming, “Traces of the New World Order/Time is getting shorter if we don’t get prepared/People it’s gon’ be a slaughter.” Mentions of the Illuminati in hip-hop quickly spiked from there: Jay Z sampled Prodigy’s line from “I Shot Ya” for “D’Evils” on his 1996 debut Reasonable Doubt, sparking rumors that persist to this day that he is associated with the organization; U-God encouraged listeners to “get your shit together before the fuckin’ Illuminati hit” in 1997 on Wu-Tang Clan’s “Impossible.”Rap’s Illuminati talk wasn’t just a one-time fad, however. The fervor died down a bit, right up until 2008, when Prodigy published an open letter he’d written in jail to URB magazine, alleging that his old rival Jay Z “promotes the lifestyle of the beast.” Hip-hop culture—the innovator of so many popular fashions, styles, and sounds—rarely sees trends with such extended lifelines. And as usual, this trend among rappers has crossed over to pop culture in a big way.

Today, the Illuminati theory is as relevant as ever, often used as a way to justify the continued success of artists—Jay ZBeyoncéEminemLady GagaKanye West—who are accused of being puppets of this mysterious web of faceless figureheads. There’s an endless stream of books, podcasts, and blogs examining the Illuminati’s use of media and entertainment to carry out its agenda, and there are innumerable YouTube videos about the Illuminati with millions of views. The Illuminati is always somehow part of the conversation when a celebrity like Whitney Houston or, more recently, Prince passes away prematurely. Its signifiers—triangles, covered eyes, devil’s horns—are consistently evoked in music videos and press photos.

What’s so perplexing about the Illuminati theory and its continued life is that it’s just that: a theory. Despite the term’s prominence in hip-hop and pop culture, there is no proof that the Illuminati still exists, and not a single artist has admitted to being affiliated with it. Then why, for more than two decades, has the existence of an unconfirmed secret society been consistently connected to the music industry? Why do the rumors refuse to go away?

‘Good Booty’ Explores A Century Of Music, Sex And American Culture

In her new book, Good Booty, music critic Ann Powers embarks on a wide-ranging history of pop music in America. The title, she says, was inspired by Little Richard’s 1955 hit “Tutti Frutti.”

“In the song we all know it’s ‘Tutti frutti, oh Rudy,’ ” Powers explains. “But in the original version, which Little Richard first sang … it was ‘good booty.’ And the lyrics were very, very dirty, frankly. They were all about greasy, sexy, exciting encounters; something you couldn’t play on the radio.”

Powers’ book, which is subtitled “Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music” looks at more than a century of music as a lens through which to explore American views on sex, race and spirituality.

“Body and soul are inseparable …” she says. “And I think music is that connective tissue that reminds us that all of our experiences, even transcendent experiences, are generated in our bodies.”

MoondogMayne YouTube

Interview Highlights

On how Little Richard inspired the book title

Little Richard is arguably, or perhaps inarguably, the founding father of rock ‘n’ roll. I mean, I talk about Elvis, I talk about Buddy Holly, other rock ‘n’ roll icons from that same time period. But as far as the style and the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll, I can’t think of a better embodiment than Little Richard. I mean, this is a guy who … gave us a new language to talk about — what we feel in our bodies that we don’t always have other ways to discuss.

On the affect rhythm has on our bodies

One thing I discovered while researching this book was there’s a term called “entrainment” and it’s a term that has to do with the nervous system and how certain things outside of our bodies can actually affect our bodies and kind of change our nervous system cycles; the way our heart beats … the way … our nerves feel and music has that power. …

Good Booty
Good Booty

Love and Sex, Black & White, Body and Soul in American Music

by Ann Powers

Hardcover, 448 pages


All music is rooted in rhythm, but particularly American music, which is defined by an African foundation and an African diaspora foundation. And so the rhythms that came through the Middle Passage, through the Caribbean to the states, which we still hear today, in you know, the music of Beyoncé, the music of the Top 40 in general. Those rhythms move our body in a particular way and help us kind of feel the things that we don’t name.

On music and sex

[It’s] a cliché to say that popular music and particularly rock ‘n’ roll is about sex or is, you know, motivated by sex, sexual feelings. But I wanted to go deeper. … I wanted to go beyond just that kind of clichéd statement. Oh yeah, of course, this is “dirty music” or whatever and really think about how, in every era from the 19th century to the present, the particular anxieties of the time and the possibilities of that time were reflected in and shaped by music.

So, for example, in the ’50s, the teenager was this new phenomenon and you know, this newly named phase of life teenage life. And people were very worried about young kids experimenting sexually, so the music reflected that. The music also guided kids through their early attempts to be erotic beings. Now kids are living on the Internet, we’re all living on the Internet. So I talk about how artists like Britney Spears with their very processed voices kind of embody virtual reality and a cyborgian way of being that reflects what’s happening erotically in cyberspace.

On music and race

Ann Powers is NPR Music’s critic and correspondent. You can read more of her work on The Record blog.

Lucent Vignette Photography/HarperCollins

In the origins of the recording industry, black and white recordings were segregated by race and, of course, this is a key aspect of the story. I say early in the book that there is absolutely no way to talk about American music — or frankly America in any way — without discussing the oppression of African-Americans, the enslavement of Africans. …

All of those things are just foundational in our culture and especially in music because, really music was the lifeline, the conveyor, for African Diaspora culture to live on as enslaved Africans became African-Americans … through the Jim Crow era into the 20th century, into the era of civil rights and into our present day.

Music is the carrier of legacies and it’s also a place in which cultures mix … sometimes through appropriation and theft, sometimes through genuine collaboration. And I wanted to look at all of that stuff. It can be hard to talk about, but I think it’s super important.

On using music as a guide through history

I think every era poses different challenges and limits and also offers different possibilities. … Right now we’re in such an incredibly challenging time in terms of relating to each other across lines of identity and recognizing oppression and some of the most intense realities of our own history. I think music can guide us through that history in a very deep way, including the history of race relations and particularly relations between African-Americans and white people in this country.

Certainly issues of appropriation arise. … But what I think is that music reflects the best of us coming together but also has offered a way for communities to preserve their own traditions and legacies and to speak to each other through those legacies.

So music … I’m not saying it’s utopian. I really don’t believe that and I’m not saying that it’s all about liberation. I think it’s important to recognize that in music we share our ugliest emotions as well as our most beautiful emotions.

Elizabeth Baker and Janaya Williams produced and edited the audio of this interview. Maquita Peters adapted it for the Web.

Music education books to inspire. 2017-18 UK

Learning Strategies for Musical Success (2nd edition) demonstrates how the quantity and quality of practice is the greatest predictor of musical success, so that aspiring musicians of all ages and abilities can best bring about expert performance.

This inspiring, accessible guide will equip students, teachers, and parents with the methods and mindset to improve the likelihood of learning music successfully.

Superb reviews, available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle, or Alfred Music.

Bumblebee! Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs.

More than just a collection of 130 choir exercises.  Timeless wisdom to help you get your choir into shape.

“An excellent publication, fun and varied. I have many different books with warm ups, but this is definitely my favourite.” – Sandra, UK

Available Amazon stores J.W. Pepper or Alfred Music.

Developing Musical Skill – for Students is a student guide for improving the quality of musical practice.

An original medley of timeless wisdom, evidence-based strategies and encouragement, Developing Musical Skill offers invaluable insight on the essentials of reaching musical excellence that are within anyone’s grasp if they possess the correct perspective and the correct way to practice.

Developing Musical Skill is guided by the philosophy that achievement in music, and indeed most other pursuits, is largely a result of intrinsic belief mindsets coupled with the quantity and quality of practice. By creating the optimal circumstances to retain and further accomplishment, any student can further their skills and abilities dramatically.

“A really great book! Well organized, clear and concise. I will be recommending it to my students.” – David Coleman, OHIO USA

Amazon or Alfred Music.

Modern Harmony Method: Fundamentals of Jazz and Popular Harmony is a clear and well organised text is suitable for students of harmony, arranging and composition, and for classically trained musicians wishing to further grasp the simple logic of jazz harmony.

Included in the 116 pages are comprehensive explanations, examples, exercises, and solutions. For school students, the course can be started in year 9 and worked through to year 13. The exercises and solutions are available separately as Sibelius files.

Amazon or Alfred Music.

Children and Learning provides guidance on how to support children’s education and all-round development. It includes clear explanations on the most effective and important strategies for cultivating self-determined, life-long learners.

Parents are disadvantaged in that they are mostly unaware of the teaching expertise of those in charge of their children’s education. This book concentrates on a few select fundamentals for reaching success. Essentially, this entails a can-do mindset, an understanding of the mechanics of how learning occurs –  and the time it takes, and the development of character traits such as commitment and perseverance. Amazon.

The Music and Keyboard series is for KS3 general music classes. Students work at their own pace through the exercises, and more skilled students are involved in assessing others. This is both fun and motivational. The course is not intended to be a full music course, but supplements singing, Orff and other parts of a rounded music curriculum. Given that the course can be continued over 2 or even 3 years, it is ideal that students have their own book. Bulk purchases attract a considerably reduced price (return email for this option)


All books Amazon, paperback or Kindle, or direct via return email. 

Developing Musical Skill – a presentation to music students, parents and teachers about how to practice.

It’s a simple connection but a powerful one. The internal drive required to pursue an activity relies heavily on the greatest of all motivators – making progress. For musical progress, nothing is as important as the quality and the quantity of practice time. This inspiring interactive, differentiated presentation will equip students, teachers, adult learners, and parents with the methods and mindset required to maximise the prospect of learning music enjoyably and successfully.  Content and concepts include repetition (blocked, variable and spaced, brain myelination) chunking (the brain looks to recognise patterns, why theory matters, short-term memory considerations) slow practice (the brain’s learning preference) the quantity of experts (Ericsson’s violinists), and of course the core importance of cultivating a growth mindset.

Just Landed: Gibson 2018 Acoustic Guitars

Gibson Montana 2018

Gibson Montana 2018 Acoustic Guitars are crafted in Bozeman Montana, USA. Gibson uses a blend of traditional techniques and modern machinery to build acoustic guitars to an incredibly high standard.

Some of popular music’s greatest hits were written on a Gibson Montana acoustic guitar. For artists like John Lennon, Bob Dylan and others, the Gibson J-45 acoustic is a staple on every recording session.

We are proud to announce at that we have the new 2018 Gibson Montana range available at Gear4music. From the classic Gibson Hummingbird, Vintage Cherry Sunburst to the iconic Gibson J-45 Standard, Vintage Sunburst, you can rely on Gear4music to find the brand new Gibson Montana acoustic guitar for you.

Click image to find out more.

Music Lifeboat – Every Child Deserves Access to a Musical Education

Our Mission

We believe every child should have access to music education. We are working on a solution to bring free music education to the world that is sustainable. We want to make sure that all young children, adolescents and adults have access to high quality music education. We work with and support music teachers and many non-profit organizations. 10% of all our proceeds go to The Harmony Project. Other proceeds go to sustain our free award winning music educational app BandBlast and help bring music education to underserved communities .

Hawaii Youth Symphony Orchestra – Orchestral Music In Paradise

HYS is Hawaii’s only statewide orchestra program for youth, and a comprehensive community resource for orchestral music in Hawaii. Each year, HYS serves approximately 650 students, ages 7-18, from nearly 100 schools on different islands – and from all skill levels.

An unparalleled and comprehensive music education

During the academic year, HYS operates three full-symphonic orchestras and four string orchestras, instructing students who are absolute beginners to the most accomplished young musicians. Education and performance are key elements of the HYS curriculum. During the summer months, HYS conducts two outreach programs: Summer Strings geared toward elementary school children; and the Pacific Music Institute (PMI),a music immersion program for middle- and high-school students from all islands of Hawaii, the mainland, and the Asia/Pacific region. HYS’s commitment to excellence requires students to audition each year for all groups except the two youngest string orchestras, Beginning String Ensemble and Intermediate String Ensemble,and our summer programs. Partial financial aid for registration fees, instrument rentals, and required private lessons assists many students who could not otherwise participate.

HYS learns and plays together and for the community

Typically, more than 16,000 seats are filled at 24 public performances during a regular season. The concert season includes free performances on Oahu and the neighbor islands. HYS also presents free Listen & Learn educational concerts for nearly 10,000 school children each year. These are Hawaii’s only symphony concerts by youth for youth. HYS develops its curriculum around four core values

  • Lifelong Learning
  • Musical Excellence
  • Community Service
  • A Future for Music

“My favorite thing about HYS is allowing me to challenge myself with orchestral music, a thing I cannot do at my current school because there is only a band, not an orchestra.” Leilehua High School string bassist

Why we do it

The understanding that music education contributes to general learning is time-honored and supportable. Music students do better than their non-musical counterparts in math, reading and writing, and on SAT tests. The demands of weekly rehearsals and multiple performances require responsibility, organization, commitment, discipline, self-confidence, poise, and an ability to listen to others. HYS also expects a high standard of professionalism from its participants. HYS fills a large gap in music education for Hawaii’s youth. Though music education has lasting, positive effects on childhood development and learning, the quality of HYS’s music program is not available in most public schools. Few music specialists exist at the elementary schools and only 15% of the state’s high schools offer any type of orchestral program. HYS provides a learning environment that fosters cooperation, communication and teamwork among students from many schools and cultural backgrounds. HYS collaborates with artists, musicians, composers, entertainers and arts groups throughout the state and beyond to give its students musical experiences they cannot find elsewhere. No music program in Hawaii offers as many opportunities to perform in professionally-produced concerts with other musical partners. These performances greatly enhance students’ musical understanding and expose them to a rare spectrum of presentation art forms. “Exposure to classical music has helped me to grow in the way I’ve learned to read and interpret music.” – Kalani High School trombone player

HYS’s commitment

Music makes better communities. In addition to contributing to the cultural richness of society, it is clearly associated with academic and personal characteristics that correlate with developing well-educated young people necessary to preserve and carry forth the well-being of our communities. By bringing together hundreds of youth from diverse backgrounds and schools, HYS’s strength lies not only in its reputation for unwavering musical excellence but in its ability to create common bonds around orchestral music. HYS’s commitment, however, goes beyond training young musicians. HYS gives its students the skills for lifelong learning and the foundation for becoming better citizens. By upholding its tradition of musical excellence, HYS is making a significant contribution to the future of music by developing new generations of musicians, and audiences with an appreciation for their music.

Nonprofit Status

The Hawaii Youth Symphony has been incorporated since 1964 and is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our EIN is 99-0119771.

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