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Filed Under (AV of the Day)

If anyone ever tells you they don’t care for music, show them this.

The musician, Tyler Gregory (visit him and buy his music here), put it this way:

“It was an ordinary day, walking to my regular spot to busk when I don’t have a gig that night, and play music on the corner for a rotating crowd. When Jacob came over I felt excited about having another kid listen to the music. (Makes my day when kids dance to the music on the street… I already had a couple come over that day so it was already nice). However, unlike most kids that come up to me with curiosity, I felt so much energy coming off of him and I was completely overwhelmed. His hand on my leg was very powerful and about brought me to tears while playing. Not because he is blind or autistic.. but because of a connection I have never felt and one that is impossible to explain. Honestly, a feeling that came from my toes all the way up my body and surrounded me. I can’t begin to explain it. I want to try to put it into words, but there is no way to tell how powerful his energy felt.

It was a powerful moment that made my day and reminded me of the good things in life. Reminded me why I love different interactions with people when playing music. Reminded me of how powerful music can be between two people. It also reminded me not to take things for granted, for most of us have it pretty easy in our everyday life. So, I just simply went home with a very big smile on my face that day, and a story to tell my close ones.”

How powerful music can be between two people, dig? Use your music. Share it. You may find power in it you never imagined was there.

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Many an urban musician has spent time scouring listings on Craigslist in search of the McCartney to their Lennon, the John Paul White to their Joy Williams. This author among them, and with results mixed at best. Some jamming, a little collaboration, a few modest gigs. Rarely something long-term, though, let alone a genuinely satisfying collaboration.

Others have had more success. Meet The Clementines, a Kansas City duo consisting of Nicole Springer and Tim Jenkins. Their project began when Tim responded to Nicole’s ad, and, they say, the chemistry was apparent the first time they played together.

Before long, what started with cover songs and open mics became a project focused on original material, oiled by a deep creative complementarity. Now with a portfolio of more than 20 songs – all written within the last year – this prolific duo is beginning to attract more attention – regionally, to be sure, but also, thanks to a growing YouTube presence and the recent release of their EP (buy it here), from new fans in far-flung places like here in New York.

The Clementines, who get their name from the main character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, are fueled by Springer’s .50 caliber voice. Resonant, versatile, and infused with passion, it’s her sometimes slightly rough-around-the-edges quality that allows Springer to move comfortably from an alt-Spanish vibe (a la Shoot Away, off the EP) to a still-fresh grunge sound (Muddy are the Waters – video below).

If Springer’s vocals generate the horsepower, it’s Jenkins’ guitar work that provides the steering. Mobile on the fretboard, his phrasing generates that second melodic line that’s so important to successful songwriting, especially in its acoustic expression. The symbiosis between the two starts in the workshop: Nicole brings her vocal and rhythm guitar melodies to Tim, who creates a lead part over them. This in turn inspires her vocals, she explains, a process of feedback and mutual influence evident in hooky, memorable tunes like Of My Own (studio version below – also available live on YouTube).

With their newly released EP, The Clementines are primed to take another step forward. And the quality of their work is keeping up with the exposure: a tour through their YouTube offerings demonstrates a clear evolution in the subtlety of their craft, with a seemingly ever-widening diversity of styles and increasingly interesting rhythmic interplay between their guitar parts. I’d like to hear more emphasis on vocal harmony – which has added a welcome texture when they’ve used it – as part of their evolution of which I’ll continue to enjoy watching the unfolding.

Lastly, their single Shoot Away, the first track on their EP

Watch The Clementines live on their YouTube channel, follow them on Facebook, and buy their EP on iTunes.

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Here’s some great music for a Sunday. Says Rodrigo: “Imagine if John Mayer, Kings of Convenience, and Jorge Drexler got together to burn their guitars in the fires of Two-Door Cinema Club. From these ashes rises a Dr. Luke inspired melody. This is what (I like to think) my music sounds like.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Especially seeing as I wasn’t familiar with Drexler until now. If you’re in the same boat, give his tune Fusión a listen after treating yourself to a couple songs by Vazquez. (To round out the picture, listen to an acoustic version of TDCC’s hit song Undercover Martyn, and Kings of Convenience’s 2009 single Boat Behind, too.)

A more international concoction, by the way, you’ll be hard pressed to find. Kings of Convenience are Norwegian, Jorge Drexler is Uruguayan, Two-Door Cinema Club is from Northern Ireland, and Mayer and Dr. Luke are American. And Rodrigo himself is from Puerto Rico.

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Tonight commences Yom Kippur, the most consequential day of the Jewish calendar and the climax of the 10 Days of Repentance. For 25 hours, Jews the world over will fast and spend the bulk of their time immersed in prayer and reflection. As the sun goes down tomorrow night, the gates of heaven will close, and the fate of each individual will be sealed for the next year.

How does one internalize an event of such monumental importance? As Phish reminds us, music helps. Indeed, music, which features prominently in the Yom Kippur service, instigates a kind of sensual, emotional, and even intellectual ecstasy which many people might otherwise go a lifetime without experiencing. It has the capacity to alter one’s experience of time, to heighten his awareness of the permeable border between physical and psychological phenomena, to dull or even suspend his preoccupation with his embodied state.

This jam is based on a verse from the poem “Avinu Malkenu” (“Our Father, Our King”). Its rough translation is:

Our God, our King
Have compassion on us and answer us
For we are without deeds
Act upon us with righteousness and mercy
And save us

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