It’s “Saturday” with Darien Live at the Blue Note!

Darien If These Walls Could Talk Cover

Okay, so maybe my ticket said it was Friday.  But, as the night’s host noted, it was past midnight and as far as he was considered, it was Saturday at the Blue Note and it was “our chance to get away” in early February.

For almost two hours, music lovers in NYC were treated to GFM-favorite Darien’s diverse and energetic set that hit everything from soul, R&B, hip hop, and Stevie Wonder too. Darien is a joy to see perform. Full of energy, fun, and a ridiculously talented live performer. He truly brought soul to the intimate late-night venue with a live horn section and a group of fantastic vocalists.  His album If These Walls Could Talk is out now.

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[Review] The Foreign Exchange @ Highline Ballroom

theforeignexchange_liab

I was at New York’s lovely Highline Ballroom with other soul & hip hop fans in the city a little over two weeks ago to catch The Foreign Exchange (Phonte of Little Brother & Dutch producer Nicolay).   They brought along singers Darien Brockington and YahZarah as well as the Zo! & The ELs band to put on a night of soulful, resonating music.

Phonte performed in a bow-tie and hat, Darien in long sleeves and a vest, but they both rolled up their sleeves and took off their jackets by the end of the night.  Each performer complemented each other perfectly, bringing their own personalities, styles, and layers to the music throughout the evening. Phonte, the night’s host, kept everyone laughing with stories and quips, and his dynamic rapping style. Darien Brockington kept the mood soulful, performing songs from his debut and songs from the new album with a distinctive, nostalgic R&B sound.  YahZarah, pretty much one of the most talented vocalists I’ve seen lately, balanced out Phonte’s style with strong, passionate vocals and brought incredible energy to the stage, clapping and dancing along with her fellow performers and the audience below.  And of course, Nicolay, in the corner bringing out the sounds and beats we all know and love from the Foreign Exchange.

Videos from the show and a review of their new album Leave It All Behind after the jump.

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Saleem & Caleb Stine: The Baltimore Music Project

saleem&caleb stine

Last month, I had the pleasure of going to Baltimore to attend a CD release show from two local artists.  One was a good friend of mine, hip hop emcee Saleem, and the other was Caleb Stine, an Americana singer/songwriter.   The CD was Outgrown These Walls, a ten-track album stripped down to poetic lyrics and Stine’s beautiful guitar playing.  Saleem has performed all over Baltimore and Washington DC, opening for classics hip hop greats like Rakim and KRS-1.   Caleb is a staple at Baltimore venues, with a huge fan base, and has performed all over the country.

What makes the music they do even better is the story behind it.  The two were coming together for a live show as the culmmination of what has been known as the Baltimore Music Project, taken on by the Baltimore radio station WTMD (check out this video for the full story behind it).  The mastermind behind it, Sam Sessa, sums it up as:

In early 2008, I had an outlandish idea: Take two Baltimore musicians who had never heard of each other, pair them up and force them to write four original songs in six weeks. And the musicians I picked, Caleb Stine and Saleem Heggins, couldn’t have come from more different backgrounds. Caleb was an Americana singer/songwriter; Saleem an MC who liked vintage hip-hop. But the friendship they forged and the songs they wrote in a matter of months are astounding. The first time Caleb and Saleem performed this music live, audience members teared up. Together they have far exceeded the original challenge and created something truly compelling.

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