Rob Meany of Terramara wins grand prize songwriting competition
Rob Meany of Terramara wins grand prize songwriting competition
Duluth native and Minneapolis transfer Rob Meany of the band Terramara recently won the Positive Pop Song Contest out of Nashville, TN. His Randy Neumanesque, minimalist piano tune, “Outrunning Headlights” propelled him to first place in the songwriting division. The Worldwide Groove Corporation will work in the future with Rob in rewarding him with studio time, a production duo, and other services.
Terramara was started by Meany (Lead Vocalist, Songwriter, and Keyboards) back in 1998. The current lineup consists of Karl Koopman (Guitar), Dave Thomas (Drums), and newcomer Erik Pederson (Bass). Last spring they released their second full length album titled, Four Blocks to Hennepin (Redhead Productions) with a light and steady Uptown beat. The band is Steely Dan cool with a jazzy pop Sting slickness. Mixing various styles and lyricism into an easy to listen to album, “Outrunning Headlights”, is a song that stands out from its catchy chorus.
Rob will be traveling to Nashville soon to claim his prize. He spoke about his surprise of winning saying, “In a business where it can be hard to get noticed, this is a huge lift for me. I’m hoping I can use this as a stepping stone to further my career in songwriting.” Other sponsors of the contest include EMI Music Publishing, GuitarCenter, TAXI.com, and CdBaby.com (among many others). For more information visit www.positivepopsongcontest.com or www.terramara.com .
Rob Meany of Terramarra
Friday, November 24th
Light and steady, Rob Meany of Terramara arrives in Duluth this Friday with an Uptown beat. His band, Terramarra, are Steely Dan cool with a jazzy pop Sting slickness. Last year they mixed various styles of music and lyricism into an easy to listen to album titled, Four Blocks To Hennepin (Redhead Productions).
Terramara was started by Duluth native Rob Meany (Lead Vocalist, Songwriter, and Keyboards) in 1998. The current lineup consists of Karl Koopman (Guitar), Dave Thomas (Drums), and newcomer Erik Pederson (Bass). Four Block To Hennepin is for the listener that wants to chill and take in some quality city inspired music. The tune “Rise & Fall” has a Sting quality complimented by a steady piano beat keeping tempo. The song soars in the chorus becoming modern and utilizing harmonies. “Wooden Man” is softer and really goes into an eighties sound that seems a bit dated. As the disc plays through the songwriter begins to emerge. When you get to “Invisible People” there is an observation of the homeless with Rob singing, “Can you see them on the avenue? Begging for change with an empty shoe/there but for the grace of God go me and you.”
“Smoke & Mirrors” is light jazz with an intimate twist. We enjoy a long instrumental that feels Steely, but has a bit more bite as it fades out. Another style that pops up is in “Outrunning Headlights.” This one had Randy Newman optimism with nice lyrics and a good hook.
The entire album is based on an artist’s view of the city and feels like a foreign take on a strange land. Terramara emulate the city, and try to become part of it with their album. You can almost hear the cars driving by and see the homeless begging for some change at some points. Listening to the album is like taking a trip to the cities, and walking in another man’s shoes. Take a trip with Rob, and save on gas by going to the Brewhouse.
Azure du Jour
Shorty Sings The Blues
Saturday, November 25th
Azure’s most recent album, Shorty Sings The Blues, is a testament to the skill and penmanship that this local trio possess. They have released live CDs before, but this is the band’s first studio venture. Each song emphasizes some classic reference of music or philosophy, but Jim Hall really stands out as quite the lyricist.
The first song, “Problem Tune,” has an easy-going folk whistlin’ introduction. When it gets going there is a blues overtone with jazzy brushes underneath from the drums. It’s cool, but with a Randy Newman like folk quality to it. The Newman style is Jim’s voice on this song, but on other tracks he sings in a lower register. “Problem” really had some lyrics that made you stop and think too. Sure all songs make you think, but with a recent drought of truly intelligent lyrics in music it was refreshing.
He sings, “The answer to the problem is always a bigger problem.” That is a great statement, because he was referring to escalation in the war on terror in the previous verse. When I asked him about the song he said, “It’s about industrial society making life easier, but coming at someone else’s expense. Like the third world, Native Americans, animals…” Those are thoughts that we all know, but often forget. The way he presents it both musically and with the statements make them stand out. Many young bands just toss lyrics onto a piece of music, but could care less if the words dance with the music hand and hand. Azure are beyond dancing, they have the flow of artisan ballerinas gliding with a blues tap dancer in some magic speakeasy in the sky.
Randy wrote the second song, “Here’s How You Talk To My Soul.” It’s a take on the classic “Little Red Rooster” but with original lyrics. I mentioned to Jim that this song struck me because I have a bootleg of Jim Morrison of the Doors and Jimi Hendrix on a stage in New York back in 1968 doing the same piece. He was curious as to what that would sound like, as was I when I purchased the bootleg. The sad thing was that Jim Morrison was so drunk that you couldn’t understand a thing he was singing, less a few verses of profanity. Needless to say it was a bit disappointing. Later Stevie Ray Vaughn covered the same tune, but Randy puts new lyrics to the song in a low singing voice. It is straight blues, and he tickles the strings as he plays the guitar.
“I like the way you smile” was written by Joe and is classic New Orleans blues with a modern touch. Then Jim comes back with the catchy, “3 Legged Bullfrog.” It’s another gem but looser than his first. He sings about the effects of acid rain on a frog with, “Did you ever wake up with a 3 legged bullfrog on your mind. The more we try to save it, the more we enslave it.” Here we have another great thought on nature and preservation. Sure we can make National Parks and other areas to protect animals, but we end up enslaving them.
On “Strange Dream” Jim sings to an authentic Bo Diddley 1950’s rock beat. Which basically is what all rock & roll comes from essentially. That beat is behind songs that were written by bands from the Beatles or Animals to Buddy Holly or any other early rock writer. “Probably Don’t Feel The Way I Do” feels like Azure got John Lee Hooker to do a track on the album.
Joe’s songs (including “We Been Through Too Much” and “Struggle With The Puzzle”) take Azure’s album to a more modern type of sound. “We Been Through” is intimate with a bosa nova beat. It had a late 1970’s sound, which in my mind reminds me of the era when Rock & Roll was dead. Then “Struggle” plays and has this modern pop feeling of almost an 80’s Stray Cat strut. The bass is smooth, and overall it’s probably the best song on the disc, although my slightly youthful bias tries to find tunes on any album that might play on the radio. Where Jim’s songs slap you with intricate lyrics dancing with the music, Joe’s have a radio appeal that rounds out the band.
Azure is three guys who contribute to each song, and Randy gets his props for “I’m In Love With You” and “When Love Goes Wrong.” “I’m In Love” makes you wanna grab the girl next to you and swing her around, poodleskirt and all. “When Love Goes Wrong” has that signature train beat that has ridden the rails of rock, folk, blues, and jazz since the 1950s. It’s old blues though when Randy takes the song and paints a picture musically that feels very southern.
Like a fine wine sitting on the shelves of a Duluth bar, Azure curiously has not been gobbled up by a label yet. They are like many overachieving Northland bands that make this area rich with great artistic music. The trio takes one part jazz, one part blues, and one part folk to make a nice brew of authentic rock & roll. Take a sip and you won’t be disappointed by this potent shot of Duluth’s finest ale.