This is the beginning Wikipedia’s profile of Wilco:
Wilco is an American alternative rock band based in Chicago, Illinois. The band was formed in 1994 by the remaining members of alternative country group Uncle Tupelo following singer Jay Farrar’s departure. Wilco’s lineup changed frequently during its first decade, with only singer Jeff Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt remaining from the original incarnation. Since early 2004, the lineup has been unchanged, consisting of Tweedy, Stirratt, guitarist Nels Cline, multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone, keyboard player Mikael Jorgensen, and drummer Glenn Kotche. Wilco has released eight studio albums, a live double album, and four collaborations: three with Billy Bragg and one with The Minus 5.
Wilco’s music has been inspired by a wide variety of artists and styles, including Bill Fay, The Beatles and Television, and has in turn influenced music by a number of modern alternative rock acts. The band continued in the alternative country of Uncle Tupelo on its debut album A.M. (1995), but has since introduced more experimental aspects to their music, including elements of alternative rock and classic pop. Wilco’s musical style has evolved from a 1990′s country rock sound to a current “eclectic indie rock collective that touches on many eras and genres.” (Continue Reading…)
To be perfectly honest, the stereotypical guitar hero — the flamboyant virtuoso with superhuman skills — is a bit long in the tooth. They were a great breed, however, from Jimi Hendrix (the Louis Armstrong of rock guitarists) to Gary Moore and others.
There isn’t a hard and fast line between the guitar superheros and straight guitar players who fronted rock and blues bands. Eric Clapton and Roy Buchanan are examples. In my mind, these are folks who are less flamboyant (except, as in the cases of Johnny Winter, Leslie West and Stevie Ray Vaughan, in how they dressed).
Their on-stage demeanor is more as part of the band than as a wild man who whose goal is to be the sole focus of the spotlight. It’s only by nature of the guitar being the focal point that they draw the most attention. Clapton, for instance, barely moves on stage and seems happy to slide to the back when somebody else is being featured.
That idea is full of exceptions and holes, of course. It’s just a conversation starter, highly debatable and possibly plain wrong. The question — Is there a difference between the ultra-flamboyant spotlight seeking guitarists and the mellower folks who just happen to play the instrument to which most attention is naturally pulled — came to mind watching these clips of the great Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher.
“Bullfrog Blues” is above and “Shin Kicker” is below. One thing that is clear is that Gallagher was an unbelievable guitarist. And, for all the volume, he plays with a tremendous amount of subtlety.
Gallagher was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Irish Republic, on March 2, 1948. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Cork City in the south, and at age nine he became fascinated with American blues and folk singers he heard on the radio. An avid record collector, he had a wide range of influences, including Leadbelly, Buddy Guy, Freddie King, Albert King, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker. Gallagher would always try to mix some simple country blues songs into his recordings. (Continue Reading…)
Wikipedia also has an insightful entry on Gallagher.
Blues Traveler was featured in a cute scene in Blues Brothers. Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd, of course) performed Rock Me Baby with the band later. He seems to be having the time of his life and plays pretty well for a non-professional.
A New York-based blues-rock quartet formed in 1988 by singer/harmonica player John Popper, guitarist Chan Kinchla, bassist Bobby Sheehan, and drummer Brendan Hill, Blues Traveler were part of a revival of the extended jamming style of ’60s and ’70s groups like the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin. Signed to A&M, they released their first album, Blues Traveler, in May 1990 and followed it with Travelers & Thieves in September 1991. Popper was in a serious car accident in 1992, leaving him unable to perform for a number of months. Fortunately, he recovered, yet he still had to perform in a wheelchair for a period of time. In April 1993, Blues Traveler released their third album, Save His Soul, which became the band’s first to make the Top 100. (Continue Reading…)
Rolling Stone offers more:
Like Phish and Widespread Panic, Blues Traveler emerged in the early 1990s as part of a new vanguard of jam bands in the tradition of the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers. Early on, the band’s reputation was built on relentless touring, marathon sets, and the explosive harmonica solos of oversized frontman John Popper. (Continue Reading…)
ZZ Top was offered $1 million apiece by Gillette to shave their beards for a television commercial in 1984. The good news is that both lead guitarist Billy Gibbons and bass player Dusty Hill refused.
Here is the beginning of the band’s profile at AllMusic:
ZZ Top is an American blues rock band, formed in 1969 in Houston, Texas. The band members are Billy Gibbons (vocals and guitar), Dusty Hill (bass guitar and vocals), and Frank Beard (drums). They hold the distinction of being one of the few rock bands still comprised of its original members for over 40 years, and until 2006, with the same manager/producer, Bill Ham. (Continue Reading…)
The story behind I Gotsta Get Paid (above), is interesting because of the involvement of Rick Rubin, who seems to be all over the place. The band seems open to new influences, which may be one reason the same three guys have played together for so long. From Wikipedia:
Entitled La Futura, the album is produced by Rick Rubin. The first single from the album, “I Gotsta Get Paid,” debuted in an advertising campaign for Jeremiah Weed and appears on the soundtrack of the film Battleship. The song itself is an interpretation of “25 Lighters” by Texan hip-hop DJ DMD and rappers Lil’ Keke and Fat Pat. The first four songs from La Futura debuted on June 5, 2012 on an EP called Texicali. DJ Screw was a major influence on the album as well, particularly because Gibbons and Screw both worked with the engineer G.L. Moon during the late 1990s. (Continue Reading…)
Below is La Grange, the band’s biggest hit.
I don’t know much about Widespread Panic, other than they come from the same school of music — and are associated with — Phish and other bands that use the Grateful Dead blueprint. Like Phish, the band does a lot of covers (including a great version of the Dead’s Fire on the Mountain, below). All the covers — and that the fact that the band’s website leads off with a nice tribute to JJ Cale — makes it obvious that they get it. Listening to a few tunes makes it clear that they are extremely talented.
Here is a part of AllMusic’s profile:
One of the many neo-hippie jam bands inheriting the road-warrior mantle left behind by the Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic established a devout grassroots following on the strength of constant touring and a loose, rootsy brand of Southern rock informed by jazz and blues textures. The group’s origins date to 1982, when vocalist John Bell and guitarist Mike Houser first began playing together while attending college in Athens, Georgia. When bassist Dave Schools left academia to join the duo the next year, Widespread Panic were officially born. The band recorded its debut single, “Coconut Image,” in 1986; drummer Todd Nance joined soon after, followed by the addition of percussionistDomingo “Sunny” Ortiz and finally keyboardist John “JoJo” Hermann.
I became aware of Estelle through the hit American Boy (above) simply because my daughter had the radio tuned to stations that played it. Her part is great, but the pop/hip hop response format — Estelle and Kayne West in this case — always seems forced.
Another of the YouTube clips is Wonderful Life (below), which I like just as much. It’s a completely different, which demonstrates her talent.
This is what Wikipedia says about Estelle:
Estelle Fanta Swaray (born 18 January 1980) commonly known as Estelle, and formerly as Est’elle, is an English R&Bsinger-songwriter, rapper and record producer. Estelle was born in London. After meeting John Legend, Estelle signed a record deal with V2 and Atlantic Records.
In 2004 Estelle released her debut album The 18th Day, which peaked with in the top 40 of the official UK charts. The album released three singles “1980″, “Free”, and “Go Gone” which all charted with in the top 40 also of the UK charts. In 2008 Estelle released her second studio album Shine which was certified Gold in the UK. The lead single “Wait A Minute” failed to chart anywhere. The second single “American Boy” peaked at number one in the UK and also became Estelle’s first song to chart in the US at a position of nine. The album released a further three singles. In 2012 Estelle released her third album All of Me. The lead single “Break My Heart” featured American rap artist Rick Ross, the single charted at number 30 on the US R&B Chart. The second single “Thankyou” peaked at 120 on the US Billboard and 22 on the US R&B chart and the third single “Back to Love” was released. (Continue Reading…)
Here is the start of Estelle’s AllMusic profile:
Able to rap, sing, and write songs that had everyone from John Legendto Roots Manuva singing her praises, Estelle Swaray got her start in London’s renowned hip-hop record store Deal Real. Her fellow employees encouraged her to take a chance and get on the mike on-stage; soon she was playing numerous London clubs and appearing with the likes of Manuva and Rodney P. Local hero Skitz asked her to appear on his 2000 album, Countryman, and soon she landed on albums by the likes of the 57th Dynasty and Blak Twang. She made her solo debut in 2003 with the Excuse Me 12″ on the Paradise Isle label, but her breakthrough track came in 2004 when “1980″ was released by the V2 label and reached number 14 on the U.K. pop chart. (Continue Reading…)
Here is Estelle’s website.