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Madeleine Peyroux is Just a Kid from Brooklyn, SoCal and Paris

I stumbled upon a Madeleine Peyroux video at Tumblr. I wish I could remember the site (does Tumblr call them sites?) where I saw it, so that I could credit the person. In any case, Peyroux is terrific.

The video I first saw was “I’m All Right,” which is above. The video itself seems to be self-consciously quirky. (It’s the old meeting odd circus performers while wandering through the countryside at night thing.) But the song is just great. Below, Peyroux sings “The Kind You Can’t Afford” before a studio audience at the Bing lounge. To answer the question posed at the top of the comments, yes — the guitarist indeed is the great Jon Herington, who has toured with Steely Dan for years. Herington may be the best thing to come out of Silk City — Paterson, New Jersey — since Lou Costello.

Here is the beginning of a profile of Peyroux at a fan site:

Madeleine Peyroux [pronounced like the country Peru] was born in Athens, Georgia, she grew up between Brooklyn, Southern California and Paris, though it was in the City of Light where she found her voice. As a teen she was drawn to street music, and in 1989 she started to perform with a group of buskers. She then joined the Lost Wandering Blues & Jazz Band, becoming the only female in the group, which toured around Europe for several years.

Madeleine burst onto the recording scene in 1996, with her stunning debut album Dreamland. Madeleine was greeted with a veritable torrent of gushing reviews. Most raved about her smoke-and-whiskey vocals, often comparing her to the late, great Billie Holiday. Others wondered how someone so young could perform classic songs by Holiday, Bessie Smith and Patsy Cline so convincingly as to make them sound like her own. Time magazine pronounced the groundbreaking Dreamland “the most exciting, involving vocal performance by a new singer this year.”  (Continue Reading…)

Peyroux’s official site is here. She will be on tour through early May.

(Homepage Photo: Mary Ellen Mark)

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.