Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Concerts’ Category

Jeff Grady Presents “Pixel Perfect”: Original, iPod Inspired Art

jeff grady pixel artThis won’t be some stuffy, highbrow art event.  No siree!  Jeff Grady’s first exhibit will be a true reflection of the man himself – smart, creative, just a little bit quirky, and above all,  fun.

Pixel Perfect is a one night exhibition of original art to be held at San Francisco’s 111 Minna Gallery on Friday, April 25.  The show draws upon Grady’s entrepreneurial business background as well as his passion for music and video games to present a collection that is a little bit history, and a lot more rock n’ roll.

The fifteen or sixteen pieces that comprise the collection have all been painstakingly crafted from discarded, non-functional iPods that are mounted on glass, many in iconic mosaic patterns.  Thousands of iPods were collected over a period of several years.  The Pixel Perfect exhibit was a full year in the making, inspired by Grady’s admiration for the often eccentric works and collections of artist Dale Chihuly.  Some of Jeff’s designs use hundreds of iPods to fashion representations of  digital icons, or of characters from vintage video arcade games, including the classic Mario Bros. and the iconic ghost from Pac-Man.  Do you remember that ghost, the one that stalked your game and gobbled your player?

Exhibit curator Kelly Coty remembers.  She remembers spending hours in the old neighborhood store where a ten dollar bill was traded for a roll of quarters, and play wouldn’t end until that roll was gone.  There’d be a queue waiting behind her; the next player would simply put his quarters on the game console and say, “I’m next.”

Really, explains Kelly, this exhibit is a small piece of our generational history.  Just as each square of a handmade quilt carries a memory, so do the tiled iPods in Grady’s artwork.  Many of those audio players were engraved at purchase.  Some are etched with “Happy Birthday” or “I love you.”  Some rode in the car every day to work and back, playing the popular music of the day.  Others spent hours at the treadmill or pounding the pavement, making those workouts easier to complete.  Most were loaded with music that had meaning and importance to the owner.  Memories, there are memories embedded in each of Grady’s designs.

For the artist, the iPod carries both his past and present.  Grady was one of the first to purchase the original iPod following its 2001 commercial release.  The audio player came without a case, and so Jeff made his own.  He soon discovered that others wanted a carrying case and much more, accessories that the entrepreneur was more than happy to supply through his new company, Digital Lifestyle Outfitters.  Sales of cases, docking stations, boom boxes and other peripherals escalated at a rapid rate; in 2006 DLO realized sales of approximately $100 million.  When the company was acquired by Philips Electronics in 2007, Grady earned the financial freedom that would allow him to focus on other interests, including his passion for the music stored on his iPod.

At about that same time, soul singer Taylor Hicks found that his circumstances had also changed for the better.  The recent American Idol winner and DLO founder were introduced by mutual friends in New York; the two found common ground as each man slowly adjusted to the challenges and rewards of unexpected fame and good fortune.  For his part, Grady decided to leave some of that fortune in the City.  His newly purchased New York penthouse was decorated and furnished in a stunning rock and roll motif by Nashville interior designer Kelly Coty.

At home in Nashville, Coty occasionally worked with local area realtors to furnish houses that would then be offered for rent or sale.  One of the homes was leased to musician Taylor Hicks, temporarily in town to work with Music City songwriters.  Anxious to have his new home ready for a weekend visit from friends, Taylor enlisted Kelly’s help.  No problem, said the designer, and she arranged for his records and extensive memorabilia to be hung on the walls, even delivering a missing shower curtain to his front door.  “Thank you,” said the Idol winner as he shared with the surprised designer, “My friends the Gradys will be here this weekend!”

Taylor Hicks will rock some soul at the April 25 Pixel Perfect art exhibit, accepting an invitation extended by new friend and curator Coty, and promptly seconded by Grady.  Local area musician Peter Chung will also perform; Chung’s band includes techies who compute by day and rock by night.  Once each year the band rocks hard in support of Music in Schools Today (MUST), a non-profit organization that funds music/arts programs in San Francisco area schools.

jeff grady heart pixel art

Jeff Grady is also firmly committed to music education in the schools.  Says Jeff, “When I was young, I was fortunate to have attended public schools that had very strong music curriculums.  Music transcends the physical world and enables children to collaborate in ways that are blind to their differences and unifies them on a higher plane.  Music in Schools Today plays an invaluable role in facilitating, supporting and establishing music programs in schools, and this is something that can change lives.”  At Pixel Perfect, one of Grady’s artworks will be auctioned with the proceeds to support MUST.  That piece is a beautiful pink heart with a single red iPod at its center.

Admission to the Pixel Perfect exhibit is free of charge, and limited to adults ages 21 and over.  Register for the April 25 event at the link.  It promises to be a very special night:  iPods on glass, musical memories to be shared and made.  If you are passionate about music, design, 8-bit technology or video games, you’ve surely come to the right place, baby.








Cecile McLorin Salvant: Jazz Reimagined in West Hartford

by Holley Dey cecile rev-016

She began with the Porgy and Bess classic “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and ended with “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story.  In between she covered Shirley Horn and Billie Holiday, lent a sympathetic voice to the “Stepsisters’ Lament” from Cinderella and gave precise phrasing to Abbey Lincoln’s “Laugh, Clown, Laugh”.  She also growled.

Yes, growled…..simply because she could, in tune and in rhythm.  At twenty-four Cecile McLorin Salvant has a confidence that is both certain and unassuming, a talent that is full-voiced yet fully in control.  She has a wide tonal range, but even more impressive are the dynamics of her performance, the light and tender touch applied to the highest notes, the deliciously warm vibrato that defines her powerful lower register.

Whatever she sings, Salvant finds the syncopation and rhythm that drive the melody, revealing the backbone of songs both new and old.  She brings a fresh style and theatrical flair to the performance of jazz standards, and on Saturday evening at West Hartford’s Town Hall those songs came alive in a way that was suddenly relevant and relatable.

Cecile performed to a full room.  Many in the audience had delayed their arrival, then anxiously checked cellphones as the UConn Huskies competed in the NCAA final four.  Happily, the hometown team prevailed during the dinner hour so that when the 2014 Grammy nominee took the stage she found a receptive audience, warmed up and ready with their own husky growl.

Blanche Calloway originally performed “Growlin’ Dan,”  a story that includes Minnie the Moocher and the “ho de ho de ho” that was later offered as a call and response in live performances.  Cab’s sister was an exceptional singer whose dramatic style was popular in the 1920s/1930s.  She was the first woman to lead an all male jazz orchestra.  Salvant herself fronted a three piece all male band on Saturday including talents on piano, bass and drums.  Her growlin’ and her story tellin’ would have made Blanche proud.

Listen below to a live recording of “Body and Soul”; the elegant phrasing and expression are representative of Cecile’s body of work.  That work includes not only classic jazz, but reinterpretation of newer blues/jazz tunes as well as her own original songs.  To learn more about Cecile McLorin Salvant, visit her website here.   To sample 2014 Grammy nominated album WomanChild, click here.


Cecile McLorin Salvant in West Hartford, Saturday, April 5

Photo Focus: Keb’ Mo’ at the Levoy:: Welcome to My Living Room

Photography by Louise Uznanski and Richard Uznanski for Ontapblog.

@2014 Ontapblog All Rights Reserved


It was the front row’s fault. Keb’ Mo’, the bluesman, appearing in Millville, New Jersey’s Levoy Theater, asked the audience for song requests during his Sunday night show. The request for ‘Color Me Father’ came from a woman in the front row. As Keb’ looked at her and then looked at her again, he quipped, “Now you’re gonna make me have to remember the lyrics.” The song is a cover of The Winston’s song and was part of an agent-mandated children’s album Keb’ made several years ago. ‘But,” he said, “I was glad I made that album because it made me think about these things I needed to think about.” And so, like so many other requested songs Keb’ did last night, he sat right down and sang it.

And the requests kept flying up to the stage. ‘Angelina’, ‘She Just Wants to Dance’, ‘Shave Yo Legs’, ‘Dangerous Mood’ and a new song from the April 22nd new release BluesAmericana titled ‘I Like the Old Me Better’, made the night of story telling more like an evening in your living room where Keb’ Mo’, his drummer Casey Wasner and cellist/bassist Tom Shinness just happened to come by with all of their instruments and songs in their heads.

A last request, blamed on the front row, was for Keb’ to bring out that banjo sitting on the guitar rack but never brought out during the night. Keb’ hoped no one would notice it was there. He regretted bringing it out but he played it willingly and beautifully. Keb’ said “I play the banjo all of the time at home. It’s a happy instrument and it makes me happy when I play it.” So, Keb’ and his two piece band filled everyone’s requests making it seem like the band dropped by your living room and played anything you wanted them to. Although the front row gets all the blame, the balcony claimed a request or two. An evening with Keb’ Mo’ made it a friendly rivalry and it did help to make the music last for two-and-a-half hours. It was nice to put your feet up and enjoy.

For more about Keb’s new CD and tour dates, click here:


Keb' Mo' at Millville, NJ's Levoy Theater

Keb’ Mo’ at Millville, NJ’s Levoy Theater

Tom Shinness, Keb' Mo' and Casey Wasner

Tom Shinness, Keb’ Mo’ and Casey Wasner

Tom Shinness, cello/bass

Tom Shinness, cello/bass






Keb' Mo' at Millville, NJ's Levoy Theater

Keb’ Mo’ at Millville, NJ’s Levoy Theater


Photo Focus: Anders Osborne:: ‘Peace’ and New Glasses

By Louise Uznanski for OnTapBlog

©2014 OnTapBlog All Rights Reserved

Anders Osborne at World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA.

Anders Osborne at World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA.

At the start of his solo acoustic set at World Cafe Live, New Orleans blues singer/songwriter Anders Osborne announced he would run through the entire new album Peace, and then go from there.  Also announced was his return to touring after a three week hiatus.  AND, he bought new glasses.  They’re really sharp and go well with Anders’ newly cropped hair.  He didn’t mention the haircut.  I’m sure it was an oversight. Read more

On Leyla McCalla, Musical Art and the Venn Diagram

by Holley Dey               ©2014 On Tap Blog  all rights reserved

Have been thinking about the relationship between art and mathematics recently; on Saturday night it all came together.  I think that there are likely as many definitions of “art” as there are artists, as many definitions of “artist” as there are critics.  Most will agree that artistic expression is powerful and powered – powered by creativity and originality.  Not all artists are musicians; not all musicians are artists.  Most musicians and many artists are accomplished entertainers, but not all.  It’s when music is given artistic expression by a talented live performer that the audience finds the sweet spot.  I lived happily in that spot on Saturday evening when Leyla McCalla took the stage at New Haven’s Cafe Nine, featuring several selections from her debut solo album Vari-Colored Songs. Read more

Musician Leyla McCalla Sets February Release for Langston Hughes Tribute

by Holley Dey                     ©2013 OnTapBlog All rights reserved


Mesi Bondye

Thank you God, look how misery has ended for us.
Thank you God, look what nature has brought for us.
Rain has fallen, corn has grown.
All the hungry children are going to eat.
Lets do the ibo dance, lets do the petwo dance.
Father God in heaven the misery has ended for us.
The misery has ended for us.
The misery has ended for us.* Read more

Taylor Hicks at Harrah’s New Orleans:: It’s All Gumbo To Me

By Louise Uznanski for OnTapBlog

©2013 OnTapBlog All Rights Reserved


We had two simple goals heading to New Orleans last week. One was to find the best music the Big Easy had to offer. The other was to find and eat the best gumbo the Big Easy had to offer. Putting on our musical chef hats we found that the basic principles of good gumbo can be applied to the basic principles of great music. Read more

Taylor Hicks: Singin’ Those New Orleans Blues

Photography by Louise Uznanski; Video by Margaret Reilly         ©2013 OnTapBlog All rights reserved

nawlins taylor 1-

After Friday night’s show at Harrah’s, some of the audience found their way to the gambling floor, others looked to the restaurants and nightlife of Bourbon Street to round out the night. Headliner Taylor Hicks found another stage, joining Anders Osborne to “Rock My Nola Soul” at the latter’s 2nd Annual Holiday Spectacular at Tipitina’s. “Who dat?” he called to the crowd, and they responded in kind, “Who dat?!” during a loose, joyful rendition of “Willie Brown Blues” (see video below). Read more

Who Dat American Idol Got that Funk? Taylor Hicks at Harrah’s New Orleans

by Louise Uznanski     ©2013 OnTapBlog All rights reserved

image (1)

Football fanatic and American Idol winner Taylor Hicks is in The Big Easy this weekend with just enough time, and more than enough energy, to rock a few tunes before Sunday’s showdown between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers. Read more

Photo Focus:: Grand Ole Opry’s New Music Genre: ‘Discograss’

Photos by Louise Uznanski for OnTapBlog.

What do you get when you mix the Bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs with the Disco-era Jive Talkin‘ and Stayin’ Alive of songwriting legend Barry Gibb of the BeeGees? Ricky Skaggs coined the phrase Discograss after ending the Tuesday night at the Opry show by performing two songs with Barry Gibb. He mentioned it only briefly when taking their bows but then decided he really liked it and so it stuck. A new country/disco genre was born: Discograss. Read more


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 111 other followers