At the risk of repeating myself, Bongo Boy Rock ‘n’ Roll TV show, like all of their many creative outlets, does the musical world an excellent service. There is so much music being made in the world today, and much of it, the good stuff at least, is not found in the realms of the big record labels and their stooges. I don’t know if anyone is buying their product anymore outside the gullible and those firmly entrenched in their comfort zones.
And if it is to the grassroots scenes and the rising stars of the smaller music circuit that we need to look to whet our musical appetites, how do we know where and which bands to check out? This video show is an excellent place to start; think of it as a short list of the great and the good, the rising stars and the about-to-break. Bongo Boy has done all the work for you; all you have to do is watch the show, make a few mental notes of artists to check out further, relax and enjoy the show.
Since airing, this show has been in heavy rotation Nationwide on more than 72 TV channels in the USA. A complete guide can be found at bongoboytv.com, and if you want to be considered for a slot on the show, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, in the immortal words of Pete Shelly from Buzzcocks, here we go, 2, 3, 4…
Those familiar with the Bongo Boy roster and musical friends will recognise the singular voice of Annemarie Picerno immediately as she kicks things off with What Will You Say, a bluesy-soul ballad, but one forged of confident tones and gorgeous textures. The term power ballad managed to get itself a lousy name and evokes images of poodle-haired glam rockers in unnecessarily tight jeans, but this is a power ballad in perhaps the truest sense of the words.
Duffy King brings a slice of soulful, West Coast jazz-rock vibes next with Say Uncle, a slick piece of excellent instrumental music that echoes the likes of Steely Dan’s later, more adventurous period. That is about as good a reference point as it gets.
When It’s Over sees STUDEO doing what they do best, hoping genres, mixing styles and making genuinely unique music, a blend of rock anthemics and ambient soundscapes, classical washes and accessible hooks. The video, one full of images of the natural world, is echoed in the music and images found in Grayhawk’s Graceful Antelope, a gentle instrumental piece built of charm and chime, understatement and restraint, a blend of fluttering flutes and ebbs and flows of strings. It feels less like a song and more like a primal evocation of a world that we have left behind, lost to the march of progress, a price paid for the so-called benefits of the modern world. And what a price.
As the name and video imagery suggest, Alec Berlin’s Man’s Best Friend is a dedication to our canine buddies. It is a scintillating and sleek guitar piece, a blend of rock power and cinematic scope, a balance of melody and muscle. The show ends with Grey DeLisle and Tonight You Belong To Me, a lovely, lilting arrangement for two acoustic guitars and a vocal that calls back to the Dust Bowl days of the Great Depression and the earliest popular music recordings. And boy, what a natural vibrato!
But, when I say that this song wraps things up, there is one song I haven’t talked about, only because I wanted to save the best till last. Love and Peace is a gorgeous collaboration that, as dark clouds gather around our world, calls for harmony and empathy, calm and understanding…love and peace. Players from all musical walks of life join singer and musician Prem Murti. Singers Natalie Ai Kamauu and Annemarie Picerno lay down an array of gorgeous controlled and considered vocals, courtesy of Mike Greenly, over Russ Hewitt’s spacious, picked acoustic guitar. The song gradually swathes in classical strings courtesy of An Vedi’s delicate violin and Tess Remy-Schumacher’s sumptuous cello. The result is a genuinely brilliant piece that goes beyond mere music or even art and offers a work of sonic healing and something to think about in this increasingly divided world on the only planet we have ever called home. Excellent, and that is not a world I ever use.
As always, this latest show contains a brilliant selection of music, and no matter what your taste is in terms of style or genre, there really is something for everyone. Bongo Boy don’t just give you what you want; they give you the music you didn’t even realise you wanted! And that’s a neat trick to be able to do.